If you’ve ever had a problem with your jaw, it was probably due to an issue with your temporomandibular joint. Your TMJ is a hinge that connects your jaw to the temporal bones of your skull, which are located in front of each ear. 

The TMJ is what lets you move your jaw up and down and side to side, enabling you to talk, chew and yawn. This means TMJ disorders can cause a lot of problems when it comes to moving your jaw.

What Are TMJ Disorders?

TMJ disorders cause pain or aches in your jaw, face and near the ears. They can lead to difficulty in chewing or pain when chewing. They can also cause a locking of the joint, which makes it difficult to open or close your mouth.

According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, the conditions that cause pain and dysfunction in the jaw joint tend to fall into three main categories:

  • Myofascial pain, which involves discomfort or pain in the muscles that control jaw function.
  • Internal derangement of the joint, which involves a displaced disc, dislocated jaw or injury to the condyle.
  • Arthritis, which refers to a group of degenerative/inflammatory joint disorders that can affect the TMJ.

The exact cause of TMJ disorders is usually difficult to determine, but some common factors may include genetics, arthritis or jaw injury. For example, the joint’s cartilage could be damaged by arthritis, which could then cause pain. It can also be caused by grinding or clenching your teeth.

TMJ disorders can be temporary or last many years, and they might affect one or both sides of your face. They are more common in women than men, and it is most common among people between the ages of 20 and 40.

What Problems Can TMJ Cause?

TMJ disorders can cause more than jaw issues. You may also experience dizziness, toothaches, headaches, earaches, neck aches, upper shoulder problems, hearing problems or ringing in your ears (tinnitus).

Because other conditions present these same issues, you may not first suspect it is your TMJ causing these problems. Ask your dentist to check your jaw joints and listen for clicks, pops or grating sounds when you move them. Depending on the severity of your pain, the dentist will recommend treatment. Most TMJ disorders do not require surgery.

How Can Chiropractic Care Help?

You might associate chiropractors mainly with back pain, but they can help with other muscles and joints too. A chiropractor can realign the highest bones in the neck with a percussion instrument to reduce nerve interference that could be causing TMJ disorders. This has also proven to be an effective method, according to a 2015 study, which found that all 14 of its patients who presented signs and symptoms of TMJ disorders showed a reduction of these symptoms after receiving chiropractic care.

If you think you may have a TMJ disorder, be sure to check with your dentist to determine if that is the cause of your symptoms. If so, reach out to the South Orange Chiropractic Center to schedule an appointment and see how chiropractic care can help relieve your symptoms. We are committed to helping people improve their health and productivity.