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  • Amy Jeffers DC, CACCP

Relief for TMJ Dyfunction


Does your jaw pop or click when you open and close it? Is it painful? Do you get frequent headaches?These are all symptoms of temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJD). According to the TMJ Association, Ltd, approximately 12% of the population in the United States suffers from TMJD. This disorder may "affect a persons ability to affect a person’s ability to speak, chew, swallow, make facial expressions, and even breathe."

Chiropractors are trained to analyze the biomechanics of the jaw by observing the opening and closing of the jaw and watching to see if the jaw glides side to side when it shouldn't be. TMJD can occur due to degeneration of the disc inside the jaw. This may occur from clenching the jaw and grinding the teeth or can occur from a variety of conditions such as "autoimmune diseases (in which the body's immune cells attack healthy tissue), infections, injuries to the jaw area, dental procedures (even prolonged mouth opening), insertion of a breathing tube before surgery, various forms of arthritis." Symptoms may worsen with opening the jaw wider than the normal range of motion like taking a large bite of an apple or eating a tall sandwich piled with topics. Chewing gum can also aggravate the jaw by fatiguing the muscles involved with chewing and can inflame the TMJ.

Chiropractors can help restore jaw function by utilizing light force adjusting to help align the bones of the upper and lower jaw. Typically this is done using a light force adjusting instrument. Chiropractors are also trained to due muscle work inside the jaw. Many times these muscles can be very tense and tender and limit the range of motion of the jaw. and relaxing them can help decrease pain and increase range of motion. Massage therapists may also help alleviate symptoms by performing massage to the muscles on the outside of the jaw, face, and neck. Dentists may also help to improve the biomechanics of the jaw using splints worn in the mouth at night, Botox injections, and in severe cases, surgery may be another option to help improve quality of life. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofascial Research recommends "eating soft foods, applying ice packs,avoiding extreme jaw movements (such as wide yawning, loud singing, and gum chewing),learning techniques for relaxing and reducing stress,practicing gentle jaw stretching and relaxing exercises that may help increase jaw movement" to help prevent aggravation of symptoms.

Chiropractic care offers a conservative, noninvasive option for helping reduce symptoms of TMJD. If you have been diagnosed with TMJD or experience popping and pain with opening and closing the jaw, please contact us for an evaluation at 715-720-2887 or dramy@lakewissotachiropractic.com


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