Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) can be a painful and sometimes confusing disorder. The temporomandibular joint acts like a sliding hinge, connecting your lower jaw bone to your skull. Specifically, these are joints that slide and rotate in front of the ear. Believe it or not, the TMJ are known to be among the most complex joints in the human body.

The TMJ joint, along with several muscles (masseter, temporalis, pterygoid’s) allow the mandible to move up and down, side to side, and front and back. Daily habits such as chewing, talking, yawning, and swallowing can put this joint at hard work and stress. When the mandible and the joints are properly aligned, these actions can take place smoothly.

When these structures (muscles, ligaments, disk, and bones) are not aligned and synchronized in movement, several problems can occur, generally referred to as temporomandibular dysfunction. This disorder is classified under three main categories:

1. Myofasical pain (most common, pain in the muscle and connective tissue)
2. Derangement of the joint (dislocated jaw or displaced disc)
3. Degenerative joint disease (osteoarthritis of the jaw)

Many patients want to know the cause of this disorder, but due to the complexity of the joint, the actual cause is not clear. Commonly, the main cause can relate to excessive strain on the jaw joint and muscle groups that control chewing, swallowing, and speech.

One prevalent habit that may be contributing to this condition is bruxism. Bruxism is involuntary clenching or grinding of the teeth. Trauma to the jaw, head, or neck can also be a contributing factor to this disorder. If this condition progresses, it can lead to locking of the jaw in the open or closed mouth position. More common symptoms are jaw pain, clicking, popping of the jaw, headaches, difficulty chewing, neck pain, earaches, tooth pain, and swelling.

Treatment for this condition ranges from simple self-care to conservative care to injections and finally surgery. To reduce your chances of TMD you can practice good posture, wear a night guards, practice relaxation and stress-reduction techniques.

Consulting with your local healthcare professional is essential for accurate diagnoses and appropriate plan of management that fits your individualized plan. At Grande Chiropractic, we take great pride in the conservative treatment of TMD. Through muscle therapy, low-level laser therapy, shockwave therapy, manual adjustments, education, and exercises, we have successfully been able to treat this condition.