Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMJ Dysfunction or TMD)

The TMJ is among the most complex joint in the body. This joint, along with several muscles, allow the mandible to move up and down, side to side, and forward and back. When the mandible and the joints are properly aligned, smooth muscle actions, such as chewing, talking, yawning, and swallowing, can take place. When these structures (muscles, ligaments, disc, jaw bone, temporal bone) are not aligned, several problems may occur and often referred to as Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMD).

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects your lower jaw (mandible bone) to the side of your skull (temporal bone), and it allows for sliding and rotating of the two bones. You can easily find your TMJ by placing your fingers in front of either ear and opening your mouth.

There are number of causes for TMD. The most common is clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth during sleep or when you’re stressed. These moments overwork the jaw muscle and put pressure on the joint.

TMD can also be caused by the following:

  • When ill-fitting dental fillings, crowns, dentures, etc. make the bite uneven
  • Trauma to the mouth i.e. a fall directly on the jaw, dental surgery, MVA
  • Hereditary issues
  • Specific diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout or fibromyalgia
  • Meniscus/articular disc dislocation (The meniscus is a fibrous cartilage located between the mandible bone and the temporal bone. Its function is to accommodate a hinging action as well as the gliding action that occurs between the two bones.)

TMD can have many symptoms that can be present all the time, or come and go. Some of these include;

  • Trouble opening and closing your mouth
  • Jaw locking, clicking or popping
  • Headaches
  • Pain in the jaw
  • Pain in the neck or face
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Ear pain

Dr. Prins will first assess the root cause of your TMD. Most TMJ conditions respond well to conservative treatment like chiropractic. He may proceed with a few different methods, such as chiropractic adjustments, and myofascial release (done by hand) to relax muscles and soft tissue associated with the TMJ in order to optimize their function. He may also advise you of certain postural changes, including sleep posture and pillow support (size and density), and exercises to do at home, especially in the upper-neck, which could be causing or contributing to your TMD as well.

Dr. Prins may also work with your dentist to ensure that the treatment chosen is the correct one for you.


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