What is TMJ dysfunction of TMD (temperomandiublar joint dysfunction)

  • A broad term used to describe any pain or dysfunction associated with the jaw
  • Dysfunction could be due to problems with the joint, the muscles surrounding the joint, the nerves in the region or any other structures

What are common Symptoms of TMD?

  • Pain in the jaw, face, ear, or head
  • Clicking or locking in the jaw
  • Pain while chewing, talking, opening your mouth wide
  • Inability to close your teeth together
  • Ringing in the ears, ear pain

What are some Causes of TMD?

  • Grinding of your teeth
  • Poor neck posture
  • Frequent/repetitive chewing (such as chewing gum)
  • Resting chin in hands repetitively
  • Direct injury to jaw
  • Stress

What are common conservative treatments for TMJ

  • Physiotherapy– to help improve your neck and jaw mobility, reduce muscle tension and advise you on an exercise program tailored to you
  • Acupuncture/Dry needling– effective in reducing pain and muscle tension
  • Stress reduction techniques such as yoga, meditation, counseling etc
  • Nightguard– custom fitted usually by your dentist to reduce grinding of your teeth and improve the resting position of your jaw
  • Medications including anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants, and anti-depressants as recommended by your doctor

What can a physiotherapist do to help my TMJ dysfunction?

  • Accurate assessment of the jaw and neck to determine what is causing your jaw pain
  • Advice on posture and any behaviors or movements or habits that are contributing to your jaw dysfunction
  • Techniques to stretch and mobilize joints of neck and jaw, muscles of neck and jaw, and any other tissues that might be affected
  • Muscle stretching and massage techniques to reduce pain in sore muscles
  • Acupuncture and/or dry needling to reduce pain in the jaw and surrounding areas
  • Home exercises to improve mobility in jaw or neck, improve posture in these areas, reduce pain and tension

What are 3 things that I can do to help with my TMJ dysfunction?

  1. Watch your posture- “forward head posture” can change the position of the jaw and contribute to jaw pain
  2. Avoid hard and chewy foods which can aggravate existing jaw pain (frequent gum chewing can aggravate TMJ dysfunction)
  3. Try relaxation techniques such as meditation or deep breathing to reduce excessive muscle tension

I have booked an appointment with a physiotherapist.  What exercises might they prescribe to me?

  1. Chin tucks-
  2. lay on back with head resting on a pillow
  3. tongue gently resting on the roof of your mouth
  4. imagine rod going in one ear and out other ear
  5. without lifting head off of pillow, gently tuck chin to “adam’s apple” trying not to tense muscles on front of neck
  6. hold 5s, repeat 3 sets of 10 per day
  • Controlled mouth opening-
  • Stand in front of mirror, one finger on TMJ, other on chin
  • Keep tip of tongue on roof of mouth
  • Allow jaw to open and drop back watching in mirror to ensure jaw is opening and closing straight
  • Do not allow tongue to come off of roof of mouth
  • Repeat exercise 5x, 5x per day
  • TMJ self massage-
  • use your index and middle finger 
  • use your fingers to find tender points or tight bands of muscle in the jaw muscles
  • common areas are just down from the TMJ or along the angle of the jaw
  • press to discomfort and perform gentle circles with fingers until pain reduces
  • perform in multiple areas as tolerated

FAQ’s

Does TMJ disorder go away?

  • TMJ dysfunction is almost always temporary.  Using some of the self-treatment strategies outlined above and visiting a qualified physiotherapist, dentist, doctor or other health professional can help to speed up your recovery

How do you fix TMJ dysfunction?

  • TMJ dysfunction can be caused by multiple things.  That is why it is important to see a physiotherapist or other health professional to determine the cause of your TMJ dysfunction.  Once a cause is determined, an appropriate treatment plan can be developed

Is TMJ a medical or dental problem?

  • TMJ dysfunction can be treated by multiple practitioners depending on the cause.  A physiotherapist can help to identify the cause and often times make recommendations on other professionals that may need to be involved such as a dentist or doctor.  Dentists often also treat TMJ dysfunction and can help with teeth that are misaligned and by constructing a night guard to reduce clenching.

What is the difference between TMJ and TMJ disorder?

  • TMJ is the short form name of the joint of the jaw (temporomandibular joint).  TMJ dysfunction or disorder (TMD) refers to any pain or dysfunction that is happening at the jaw

If you are experiencing pain in you jaw region, having pain while chewing or yawning, or notice that your jaw is cracking or popping, call to book your appointment with one of our physiotherapists in Alliston or Tottenham today!

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