TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorders afflict as many as 10 million people in the United States alone. TMJ disorders, or TMD, can bring about severe pain and many issues for those suffering from it. The jaw is an intricate joint, and for many individuals, TMD symptoms can occur without an exact cause or reason.
What Is TMJ?
The joint that connects the lower jaw (mandible) to the temporal bone of the skull is called temporomandibular joint, or TMJ. Every person has two TMJs – one on each side of the head. If you want to feel them, press the joint in front of your ears. Due to the mobility of the jaw, the TMJ is among the most overused and complex joints in the body. It can hinge open and close; it can also glide from side to side.
Nearly all the movements done by your mouth, such as talking, chewing and yawning, are made possible by the TMJ. The TMJ has a disc inside the joint that serves as a shock absorber and takes in some of the force the joint endures during chewing and other actions.
Symptoms of TMJ Disorders
Disorders of the TMJ can arise for numerous reasons, and every person might experience these issues differently. Some of the signs and symptoms of a disorder of the TMJ are as follows:
- Jaw stiffness
- Jaw locking
- Upper and lower teeth that do not match together
Jaw issues do not typically happen on their own. Most people who suffer from problems and dysfunction of the TMJ also experience many other symptoms. These symptoms may come hand-in-hand with TMD:
- Neck pain and stiffness
- Facial pain
Home Remedies to Care for Your TMJ
There are practices you can follow at home to relieve your TMJ issues. Including the following habits can help you get relief and manage your jaw pain and discomfort:
- Putting ice packs on the jaw – Ice can help reduce the swelling in your temporomandibular joint, which can help relieve the pain.
- Eating soft foods – Avoid eating hard, chewy foods such as steak or a bagel as they can irritate your jaw even more. Have soft foods in your diet to be gentler on your jaw and reduce the pain.
- Do not push your jaw’s range of motion to its maximum – Being mindful of your jaw as you talk, chew your food, or yawn is critical. Do not open your mouth too wide or make too many repetitive actions like chewing gum.
- Relieving Stress – When you’re under stress, you might have the habit of clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth. This bad habit contributes to the pain and disorder of the TMJ. Practice stress-relieving methods such as doing your favorite hobby, exercises, or watching a funny movie.
Following these natural treatment options can reduce your jaw discomfort. Doctors may also prescribe anti-inflammatory medications or suggest over-the-counter painkillers to people suffering from TMD issues. Sometimes dentists or physicians recommend the use of a mouth guard to stabilize the jaw and shield the teeth from grinding.
Natural TMJ Relief Through Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care
Studies have noted that many people with TMD also suffer from neck pain; thus, it is possible that the root cause of TMJ pain lies in the neck. Your TMJ, atlas (C1 vertebra), and brainstem are very close in proximity. Your atlas is the topmost bone in your spine. It is located just beneath your skull and is the most mobile vertebra in your spinal column. It also is responsible for protecting your brainstem, off of which branches what are called cranial nerves. The atlas can misalign due to injury or wear and tear, and this can cause inflammation of the cranial nerves that regulate the muscles of the face and jaw, as well as transmit pain signals to the brain. An upper cervical misalignment can lead to tightening of the muscles of the jaw, neck, and face, which can result in jaw dysfunction or TMD.
Here at Rickards Chiropractic in Escondido, California, we offer upper cervical chiropractic care that focuses on the atlas. We utilize scientific imaging that helps us pinpoint exactly how your atlas has misaligned. This gives us the details we need to perform a personalized adjustment for all our patients.
Upper cervical chiropractic adjustments are known for being mild and extremely precise. It is designed to hold in place for as long as possible. When the bones stay in their correct alignment longer, the body has more time to heal without being interrupted. As a result, many patients start to feel better faster, and normal jaw function can return.
If other TMJ treatment options have not given you the improvement you need, then perhaps an underlying upper cervical misalignment is stopping you from recovering fully. Call our clinic and schedule a consultation. Discover more about upper cervical chiropractic care and uncover the missing piece on your road to a healthier life.