Temporomandibular Joint Disorder:

If you have heard of TMJ in reference to the Jaw, then you may have also heard of TMJD. TMJD, often also known as TMD. TMJ stands for Temporomandibular Joint. TMJD stands for Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction and TMD stands for Temporomandibular Dysfunction, both are the same painful condition.
The Chiropractic Physicians at Connecticut Family Chiropractic are especially to treat TMJD. In fact, many Dental Specialists including Oral Surgeons; refer their patients for treatment of TMJDS to Connecticut Family Chiropractic. We have been successfully treating this disorder for nearly 20 years with over a 99 percent success and patient satisfaction rating. The treatment is soothing, effective and often on the very first treatment, our patients walk out with more flexibility and less pain! Gentle effective treatments often include gentle stretching procedures and soft tissue and facial muscle massage as well as gentle Physical Therapy treatments that may include soft electrostimulation treatment, moist heat and ice therapy. All of this usually takes place within a 15 minute treatment! We have treated over 1000 patients for this painful debilitating condition.

What Exactly Is TMJD?

Does it hurt when you chew, open wide to yawn or use your jaws? Do you have pain or soreness in front of the ear, in the jaw muscle, cheek, the teeth or the temples? Do you have pain or soreness in your teeth? Do your jaws make noises loud enough to bother you or others? Do you find it difficult to open your mouth wide? Does your jaw ever get stuck/locked as you open it?
If you answered “yes” to some of these questions, you may have a temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMJD. TMJD is a group of conditions, often painful, that affect the jaw joint.
  • Radiating pain in the face, neck, or shoulders;
  • Limited movement or locking of the jaw;
  • Painful clicking or grating when opening or closing the mouth;
  • A significant change in the way the upper and lower teeth fit together;
  • Headaches, earaches, dizziness, hearing problems and difficulty swallowing.
Pain or discomfort in the jaw muscles or joints often lasts for months and does not usually improve without treatment. Pain often occurs in cycles, it will worsen and then improve. Often each time it worsens it is a little worse. Many people with TMJD pain, can develop chronic symptoms. Your doctor of chiropractic can help you establish whether your pain is due to TMJD and can provide conservative treatment if needed.

What Causes TMJD?

  • Researchers agree that TMJD falls into three categories:
  • Myofascial pain discomfort or pain in the muscles of the jaw, neck, and shoulders;
  • An incorrectly positioned or displaced TMJ meniscus or disc;
  • Degenerative joint disease rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis in the jaw joint.
Prior injury to the jaw including direct trauma and even car accidents are leading causes of TMJD. For example, anything from a hit in the jaw during a sporting activity to overuse syndromes, such as chewing gum excessively or chewing on one side of the mouth too frequently, may cause TMJD.
Both physical and emotional stress can lead to and cause TMJD to worsen. If you are feeling tension in the jaw and you are going to the dentist, you should let them know about this and they may consider using medications during the procedure to minimize the injury potential, or they may send the patient for Chiropractic or Physical therapy immediately after treatment. Sometimes, the Dentist may instruct patients in exercises they can do at home to loosen up the joint after the visit.
While emotional stress itself is not usually a cause of TMJD, the way stress shows up in the body can be. When people are under psychological stress, they may clench their teeth, which can be a major factor in their TMJD.
Some conditions once accepted as causes of TMJD have been dismissed moderate gum chewing, non-painful jaw clicking, orthodontic treatment (when it does not involve the prolonged opening of the mouth, as mentioned above), and upper and lower jaws that have never fit together well. Popular theory now holds that while these may be triggers, they are usually not direct causes.
Women experience TMJD four times as often as men. Several factors may contribute to this higher ratio, posture may be a leading cause.

TMJD Diagnosis and Treatment:

To help diagnose or rule out TMJD, our Chiropractic Physicians may measure your ability to open your mouth by placing a thin wooden Tongue Depressor in your mouth and gently bite down. You may also be asked to open and close your mouth and chew repeatedly while your doctor monitors the dimensions of the jaw joint and the balance of the muscles. In performing these tests and putting this together with a full history of your complaint, our Doctors can generally easily determine the signs of inflammation and abnormalities that may be causing your TMJD. Sometimes special imaging, an x-ray or an MRI may be needed to help confirm the diagnosis.
If you have TMJD, our doctor at Connecticut Family Chiropractic may recommend treatments including, massage, applying heat/ice and special exercises. In most cases, your doctor’s first goal is to relieve symptoms, particularly pain. If your doctor of chiropractic feels that you need special appliances or splints and other guards, he or she will refer you to your dentist or orthodontist for co-management.
In addition to treatment, our Doctors of Chiropractic can teach you how to:

Apply heat and ice to lessen the pain:

Ice is recommended shortly after the injury or after your pain has started. In the later stages of healing, you may need to switch to moist heat, especially if you are still experiencing discomfort.

Avoid harmful joint movements:

For example, chomping into a hard apple is just as bad as crunching into hard candy (some hard candies are even called “jawbreakers” for good reason). And giant sandwiches can cause the mouth to open too wide and have a destabilizing effect on the jaw. In more painful cases, your Chiropractic Physician and your Dentist or Oral Surgeon may prescribe a soft diet for a short period of time.

Perform TMD-specific exercises:

Depending on your condition, our Doctor may recommend stretching or strengthening exercises. Stretching helps to loosen tight muscles and strengthening helps to tighten muscles that have become loose. Special feedback sensors in the jaw can be retrained, in order to reduce the reoccurrence of this painful condition.

We invite you please come to our office and experience an excellent office environment that keeps you in mind. We cater to you and strive to help reduce your pain and teach you about your condition so that you can help us to help you! Please visit us here at Connecticut Family Chiropractic soon!