The TMJ—short for temporomandibular joint, links the mandible (the bottom part of the jaw) to the temporal bone of the skull. When the jaw functions normally, there’s no cause to ever worry about it. However, when the TMJ suffers from an issue, then it may lead to loss of range of motion, grinding, popping, pain, and more problems.
When the TMJ is not functioning as it should and causes problems, the condition is called TMJD (temporomandibular joint dysfunction). TMJD is also called TMD (temporomandibular disorder). There are many reasons why TMJD might happen, and the warning signs may range from mild to severe. Mild TMJD often manifests as irregular clicking in the joint or minor discomfort. Severe cases can trigger sharp pain, locked jaw, and migraines. It can even affect an individual’s ability to drink, talk, eat, and yawn.
TMJD: Its Symptoms and Signs
If a person has a TMJ dysfunction, it can hurt one or both sides of the face. The discomfort, pain, and other symptoms can start temporarily or may last for several years. TMJD is prevalent in women more than men, and most likely to happen between the ages of 20 and 40. Many of the most common signs and symptoms of TMJD consist of:
- Dizziness or vertigo
- Neck pain
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Locked jaw
- Swelling of the jaw joint on either side of the face
- Pain and tenderness around the face, ears, jaw joints, and scalp
- Pain whenever the mouth opens or closes, usually while trying to speak, chew, or yawn
- Difficulty of the jaw to open wide due to loss of range of motion
- Grating, clicking popping or grinding sounds from the TMJ
Things to Do When You Have TMJD
Besides these TMJ pain home remedies, here are other things you can do:
Massage Your Jaw and Face
Rub gently the tight muscles that are responsible for controlling movements of the face and jaw. Doing this can relieve tension in the jaw area. Use gentle and small circular motions with your index and middle fingers. You can also try, with clean hands, to massage the muscles on the inside of your mouth. Slowly rub the muscles on the back and sides of your neck to relieve pain and reduce tension.
Start Doing Regular Exercises
The benefits of regular exercise are countless. Establishing your daily exercise routine minimizes stress effectively. Also, it releases endorphins, which can give you natural pain relief from TMJ disorders.
Sleep On Your Back Or Side
Sleeping on your back or side eases pressure and stress on the temporomandibular joints. In addition, sleeping on your back or side helps keep your back and neck in a more neutral alignment, unlike when you sleep on your stomach where your neck is turned maximally to one side.
Find the Time to Meditate
Intentionally take a few minutes each day for meditation or relaxation. You can do this in the morning immediately after waking up or at night, right before you sleep. Choose what works best for you. This activity can help eliminate stress and potentially relieve TMJ pain. Focus on relaxing the muscles in your face, scalp, jaw, and neck.
See An Upper Cervical Chiropractor
The atlas vertebra is the uppermost bone in the upper cervical spine (in the neck). It has the job of supporting the head. The atlas is in very close proximity to the TMJ on either side of your face, just behind the ears. If the atlas shifts out of alignment, it can affect the resting position and alignment of your jaw.
Things NOT To Do When You Have TMJD
Chew a Gum
Chewing gum is a factor that causes you to overuse your jaw’s muscles.
Bite Your Fingernails
Bad habits like biting of the nails, chewing the end of the pen or pencil, and other mannerisms can be contributors to your TMJ issues.
Sleep on Your Stomach
If the head turns to the side for prolonged periods, it puts considerable tension and pressure on your neck. That pressure can transfer to your jaw.
If you spend a lot of time sitting, whether at work or home, you need to maintain a good posture and avoid slouching. Use a lumbar support cushion for your lower back to prevent low backache and neck pain. Remember that the jaw and the neck are close together. What affects one may affect the other nearby parts. Bad posture makes your back and shoulders round forward, and it tends to bring your head forward, out in front of the body. Thus, it creates more tension and pressure in the jaw.
A Great Option for Natural TMJD Relief
Most people who suffer from TMJD agree that when their jaw starts to give them trouble, their neck also follows suit. Upper cervical chiropractic care focuses on proper neck alignment. When the head is not positioned neutrally on the top of your neck, some changes occur within your body. If the head balance is not optimal, an abnormal compensation occurs, thus TMJD becomes the result.
Upper cervical chiropractic aims at restoring normal atlas alignment. The atlas bone carries the weight of the head, and if it is not aligned correctly, it can influence jaw function and trigger many symptoms of TMJD. Also, the atlas surrounds and protects the brainstem.
If you are dealing with many symptoms of TMJD, such as discomfort, pain, and dysfunction, seek an upper cervical chiropractor near you. One can help you get much-needed relief.