TMJ Treatment

What does TMJ stand for and how do you describe this condition and what causes it?

TMJ short for the temporomandibular joint, where the jaw bone connects to the skull. The condition is characterized by pain in the jaw, getting pain when you’re talking, when you’re eating, essentially pain when you’re using your jaw bone. If you were to feel your face then find the corner of your jaw and you slide up to the bony prominence in front of the ear that is the TMJ joint.

Why would someone see a chiropractor for help with TMJ?

Chiropractors can help determine the cause of TMJ pain by evaluating the jaw and joint through history taking, x-rays, an orthopedic evaluation and a neurologic exam.  Chiropractors can then treat TMJ with adjustments and soft tissue therapy to improve joint function.

Traumas, car accidents, repetitive stresses, teeth grinding, and many other things can shift our TMJ out of alignment. When it shifts, it shunts the jaw forward or to the side. When the jaw’s not in alignment and you’re using that jaw, it over time creates wear and tear, and that’s classically causing the jaw pain. 

Joints are designed to function in a friction-free manner. On occasion, a clicking or grinding sound may be heard in the jaw joint.

Clicking sounds are caused by a lack of coordinated movement between the jaw joint and a cartilaginous disc that serves as a “shock absorber.” If the disc is out of position, the condyle bone and the skull rub against each other. Clicking is an early warning sign that a problem exists within the jaw joint.

TMJ/TMD Treatment

Dr. Jeffrey Robinson has been treating Temporomandibular joint pain (TMJ) and Temporomandibular dysfunction (TMD) for over 20 years.  

Dr. Jeff Robinson’s philosophy of treatment is to begin conservatively and use a combination of treatments including myofascial release, acupuncture, shockwave, food avoidance, detoxification and supplementation.  Dr. Robinson’s goal is to remove all the potential sources of chronic inflammation and nervous system irritation before recommending referrals for more involved procedures including splints etc. 

In our office, we do some specific soft tissue therapy, so the muscles that sit in your jaw or your masseter, but specifically muscles called your pterygoids. There really big culprits with temporomandibular joint pain. When you address these muscles address cervical spine misalignment,  remove the sources of inflammation we then tend to get some awesome results with our TMJ patients.

Symptoms of TMJ

Accurate diagnosis of a TMJ problem can be a challenge since the symptoms masquerade themselves in seemingly unrelated forms. Only with training and sophisticated equipment can a TMJ dysfunction be identified with certainty. If you suffer from any of the symptoms listed below, you need a TMJ checkup:

  • Pain in the Jaw
  • Pain in the Jaw first thing in the morning (possibly teeth grinding at night “bruxisim”)
  • Pain in the Jaw after eating
  • Tension headaches
  • Frequent dizzy spells
  • Face, neck, and shoulder pain
  • Limited movement or locking of the jaw
  • Numbness in fingers and arms
  • Earaches or ear stuffiness
  • Popping, clicking, or grinding jaw joints (Clicking or grinding sounds are Abnormal!)
  • Pain behind the eyes

How to Diagnose TMJ Dysfunction

If you think that TMJ dysfunction may be the cause of your problem(s), there are several tests you can do or questions you can ask yourself. Please take a few minutes to answer the questions below. 

Do you have a grating, clicking, cracking, or popping sound in either or both jaw joints when you chew?

Do you have sensations of stuffiness, pressure or blockage in your ears? Is there excessive earwax production?

Do you ever have a ringing, roaring, hissing, or buzzing sound in your ears?

Do you ever feel dizzy or faint?

Is your jaw painful or locked when you get up in the morning?

Are you ever nauseous for no apparent reason?

Do you fatigue easily or consider yourself chronically fatigued?

Are there imprints of your teeth on the sides of your tongue?

Is it impossible to swallow quickly five times in a row with the last swallow being as easy as the first swallow?

Does your tongue go between your front teeth when you swallow?

Do your fingers sometimes go numb?

Do you have any pain or soreness in any of the following areas: jaw joints, upper jaw or teeth, lower jaw or teeth, side of neck, back of head, forehead, behind eyes, temples, tongue or chewing muscles?

Is it hard to move your jaw from side to side or forward and backward?

Do you have difficulty in chewing your food?

Do you gulp your food, swallowing it whole or almost whole?

Do you have any missing back teeth?

Have you had extensive dental crowns and bridgework?

Do you clench your teeth during the day?

Do you grind your teeth at night? (Ask a significant other.)

Do you ever awaken with a headache?

Have you ever had a whiplash injury?

Have you ever worn a cervical collar or had neck traction?

Have you ever experienced a blow to the chin, face, or head?

Have you reached the point where drugs no longer relieve your symptoms?

Does chewing gum start your symptoms?

Is it painful, or is there soreness, when you press on your jaw joints or on the cheek just below them?

Is it painful to stick your “pinky” fingers into your ears with your mouth wide open and then close your mouth while pressing forward with your “pinky” fingers?

Does your jaw deviate to the left or right when you open wide? (Look in the mirror.)

Are you unable to insert your first three fingers vertically into your mouth when it is opened wide?

If you have answered “yes” to a substantial number of the following questions, you may very well be one of the many millions of people suffering from TMJ dysfunction.

For a new patient coming to see you for help with TMJ, what would their first visit involve?

The new patient’s evaluation is going to involve two exams; An orthopedic exam, including both the cervical spine and the TMJ joint looking a Range of Motion and Muscle tone etc. Then we will perform a neurological exam, and look to see if there are any abnormal findings.  We will do both a traditional neurological test and an Applied Kinesiology test to look for abnormalities.  

Once we have completed the exams and gone through functional testing of the Jaw we discuss the potential causes of the problem and what treatments may be best suited. 

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