Do you have pain in your jaw?
Do you have pain or clicking with chewing?
Have you asked your dentist about your jaw pain with little success to date?
What is the Temporomandibular Joint?
The Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) is the jaw joint found just in front of your ear. When something goes wrong with your TMJ it’s called Temporomandibular Dysfunction (TMD). TMD issues can be caused by:
- Imbalances of the muscles of your head, neck and jaw
- Issues within the joint itself called an internal derangement of the joint
- A combination of 1 and 2
What are the Symptoms of Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction?
With TMD you can often hear clicking when you open or close your mouth, which can be associated with pain and stiffness as well. Cases of TMD that are caused by muscle imbalances often lead to a tense feeling around your jaw, head or neck. Other symptoms of TMD include:
- A click with jaw opening
- A click with jaw closing
- Pain with opening your mouth wide
- Pain with clenching your teeth
- Tension and tightness around your jaw joint, sides of your face or temple area
What can a Chiropractor and/or Physiotherapist do for your Jaw Pain?
Therapy provided by a Chiropractor or Physiotherapist may be helpful for TMD that is caused by muscles, joints or both. Your chiropractor or physiotherapist can perform manual techniques along your upper neck and inside your mouth that release tight muscles. In addition, they can educate you on what is happening, why it’s occurring and what lifestyle modifications that you can make. They will guide you on how to strengthen your jaw and help you determine which activities to avoid for a speedy recovery.
Other treatments techniques employed by your physio or chiro may include acupuncture, dry needling and an individualized exercise program.
The following video describes treatment for TMJ by one of our registered physiotherapists, Suzie Foreman:
A Randomized Control Study looked at 93 people with TMD referred by dentists to chiropractic providers. The patients were divided into three groups.
- Chiropractic treatment of muscles inside and outside of the mouth
- Chiropractic treatment & education
- No Treatment or education (Control Group)
At 6 months, the research found that both the chiropractic treatment groups did better than the control group. After one year the group that received both chiropractic treatment and education maintained improvements the most while the chiropractic only group seemed to regress slightly.
Ultimately, if you suffer from TMD, then you want to be treated by a Chiropractor or Physiotherapist that has specific training in external and intraoral techniques of the TMJ.
What are the Best Exercises to Help with Jaw Pain?
This series of exercises was designed by Mariano Rocabado, a Chilean Physiotherapist, and international expert on TMJ treatment. There are six exercises, to be performed six times a day and repeated six times each, hence the name 6×6.
- Place the tip of your tongue behind your teeth with your jaw gently closed. Take six breaths. Then using your tongue perform a clucking noise from this positon 6x.
- Place your tongue of the roof of your mouth (ideal tongue position), just behind your front teeth. Then open and close your mouth slowly 6x.
- Perform the same movement as above but place your fingers underneath your chin to add resistance on opening 6x, repeat with fingers on the front of chin with closing 6x and then applying resistance on both sides 6x without letting your jaw move off midline.
- Sit up tall, bring your head back over neck (retraction), support your head with your hands and nod your chin slowly up and down in a small range of movement 6x.
- Tuck your chin down slightly and hold for 6 seconds with good tongue position 6x
- Sit up straight and squeeze your shoulder blades together 6x.
What Should be Avoided if you have Jaw Pain?
- Chewing heavy meats, nuts, raw carrots etc.
- Taking big bites into burgers, apples etc.
- Do not chew gum or bite your nails
- Avoid intentionally clicking your jaw or clenching your teeth
- Limit your speaking if it is an aggravating factor
- Slouching or poor posture at your desk.
How can you Treat your Jaw Pain at Home?
- Wear a mouth guard at night if prescribed by a dentist
- When yawning, support the bottom jaw
- Keep teeth apart when resting
- Rest tongue on the roof of the mouth behind the front teeth as much as possible
- Keep mouth closed to promote nasal breathing
- Buy a lumbar support roll and have your workstation ergonomics assessed
How Long Does it Take to Recover from Temporomandibular Dysfunction?
If you are experiencing jaw pain and take active steps towards recovery such as modifying your lifestyle, actively performing exercises and seeking professional treatment when necessary, you should have relief in a two-month time frame.
Every injury is slightly different and most often than not there will be contributing factors from lower down in the kinetic chain, ie. Spine or pelvis. Treatment may have to address the full body for a speedy recovery and future prevention.
To book your appointment with one of our highly trained physiotherapists or chiropractors give us a call today. Be sure to mention that you are suffering from TMD so that you may be booked with a practitioner that specializes in TMJ care and support.