YOUR HEALTH and your jaw: TMJ problems

YOUR HEALTH and your jaw: TMJ problems

TMJTemporal Mandiblar Joint (TMJ) Syndrome is a common source of headaches and jaw pain. TMJ refers to the Temporo-Mandibular Joint, the area where the lower jaw or mandible attaches to the skull at the temporal bone, just in front of and below the ears. The TMJ is an articulating joint similar to the knee. A thin disc of cartilage separates the bony surfaces and is stabilized and supported by various muscles. This normally allows smooth movement when chewing, talking and swallowing. Palpation of the joint is generally painless.

What causes TMJ problems?

TMJ syndrome can be caused by trauma, grinding or clenching of the teeth, disease, wear due to aging, or other habits, such as chewing gum or objects like pens or pencils.

How can I prevent TMJ problems?

If you tend to have occasional bouts with jaw pain, avoid chewing gum or biting on objects, such as pens or fingernails. Avoid eating hard or chewy food. When you yawn, support your lower jaw with your hand. Also, see your dentist if you grind your teeth at night or find yourself clenching your jaw. Your dentist can make a splint/nightguard which may give you some relief.

What are some common symptoms associated with TMJ Syndrome?

  • Does your jaw joint make a popping, clicking or snapping sound when you move it?
  • Do you hear and/or feel a grating sound in your jaw joint on movement?
  • Is the joint tender to the touch when you press the area in front of the ear?
  • Do you clinch and/or grind your teeth at night or during the day?
  • Do you sometimes have difficulty opening or closing your mouth?
  • If you have tinnitus (ringing in your ears), does the ringing sound change in any way as you open and close your mouth while applying external pressure to the joint?
  • Do you have frequent episodes of vertigo and/or nausea?
  • Do you have ear sensitivity and/or pain associated with sound?
  • Do you have recurring earaches for which the doctor can find no apparent cause?
  • Do you have recurring migraine-like headaches that do not respond to migraine medicine?
  • Are your neck and shoulder muscles constantly tense and/or painful?

If you answered yes to any one or more of these questions, you may have a TMJ disorder.

The TMJ is a moveable joint like any other in the body and thus can be treated like any other joint in the body, with soft-tissue therapies, joint mobilization, acupuncture and rehabilitation.

Ask your therapist at the clinic for more information about YOUR HEALTH and treatment for TMJ syndrome.