We may not pay much attention to our jaw, but one of the most complex joints in our body is the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). It enables actions we spend much of our day doing such as eating and talking.
Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation surrounding the TMJ. I’m sure you have heard the TMJ myths around, such as your friend telling you “I have TMJ!” referring to his painful jaw and face. We’re here to help separate fact from fiction among the seven widespread, long-standing myths about the TMJ.
Myth #1 – TMJ Is a Medical Condition
The Truth: TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint. The pain in your jaw and surrounding muscles that control it are known as temporomandibular dysfunction or TMJ disorder. Most people wrongly call it TMJ, after the joint. The acronym for the health condition should be TMD.
Myth #2 – TMD Is a Rare Disorder
The Truth: TMD is a widespread medical concern. About 35 million people in the United States alone suffer from disorders in the TMJ and surrounding muscles. Around the world, as many as 1 in 10 people have it. People of all ages can experience TMD, but women and adults between the ages of 20 and 40 are reported to be more at risk.
Myth #3– Only Accidents and Injuries Cause TMD
The Truth: While a high number of TMD cases involved some injury such as whiplash, or a direct blow to the jaw or head caused by car accidents, not all cases of TMD are due to injury. Malocclusion (bad bite where your upper and lower jaws don’t meet with your mouth closed) and bruxism (grinding of the teeth) can also cause jaw pain as they put stress on the hard and soft tissues of the jaw.
Myth #4 – Your Headaches Have No Relation to TMD
The Truth: Headaches are prevalent in TMD patients. A research study done by the University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine found that 82% of females and 17% percent of males had tension headaches caused by TMD. When your TMJ muscles tense up, the pain can spread to your cheeks and head, causing a headache.
Myth #5– My Jaw Stopped Clicking, So I’m Free from TMD
The Truth: Just because the clicking sound in your jaw has stopped doesn’t mean you’re cured of TMD. Also, popping or clicking along with jaw pain is not the only symptom of TMD. Facial pain, numbness, ear issues, muscle spasms, and occlusal or bite issues are some other signs of TMD that you should be aware of. It is still best to have yourself evaluated by a doctor using TMJ exams.
Myth #6– TMD Requires Surgery
The Truth: Surgery should be your last-resort option as it involves painful recovery and risks. It’s essential that you first give other treatment alternatives serious consideration and stick to your healing routine to provide them with the best chance of treating your TMD. Surgery is rarely an option for TMJ disorders unless you were born with a jaw defect that absolutely must be corrected.
Myth #7– It’s Nothing, TMD is Not Life-Threatening
The Truth: Although deaths are rarely related to TMD, it is not far-fetched given the potential implications of the disorder. We should take chronic jaw problems seriously as they may result in the following:
- Sleep Problems – Pain keeps a person awake all night, and regular lack of sleep can lead to serious health issues such as anxiety, depression, and heart disease.
- Dental Health Issues – If TMD is caused by bruxism, it needs to be corrected immediately before the teeth grinding leads to enamel erosion, gum recession, or cracking of teeth.
- Neck Pain – TMD may bring in neck issues such as stiffness, numbness, wry neck or torticollis, and neck arthritis. When these get worse, it may result in disability or paralysis.
- Poor Nutrition – When you’re having difficulties eating and you’re avoiding certain foods that may be nourishing but hard to chew, you may suffer from poor nutrition.
- Weakened Immune Health – Sleep deprivation and poor nutrition may hit your immune system, thereby increasing your risks for diseases like diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, obesity, and specific cancers.
Getting Natural Relief from TMJ Disorder
Neck pain is one of the common symptoms of TMD, and the neck is related to the underlying cause of TMJ – an upper cervical misalignment. Upper cervical chiropractic addresses the C1 and C2, the top two bones in the spine. It uses diagnostic imaging to locate the specific misalignment, then performs a gentle and personalized adjustment based on a patient’s individual situation.
After just one adjustment, the body begins to recover from the misalignment and TMJ symptoms. Patients finally get their much-needed relief from TMJ pains with even more long-term benefits to their overall health and well-being.
If you have TMD and would like to see for yourself the benefits of upper cervical chiropractic care, schedule a no-obligation consultation with a chiropractor near you.