Affecting more than 15% of all Americans, Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) is the general term used to describe pain, limited mobility and/or dysfunction of the jaw. People of all ages may develop TMD at in given point in their life; however, studies show that individuals between the ages of 20-40 are placed at the greatest risk. The severe pain and limited mobility it creates can make living with TMD a real nightmare, which is why it’s important for individuals suffering from this condition to seek treatment. Turning a blind eye to TMD may result in the condition becoming progressively worse, but thankfully there are treatment options available.
The temporomandibular joint rests where the lower jaw bone (known as the mandible) connects to the upper jaw bone (know as the temporal bone). Unlike most other joints in the human body, the temporomandibular joint is incredibly flexible and able to move around freely. This is necessary so we can eat, talk, yawn, etc. But this increased flexibility also leaves the temporomandibular joint vulnerable to injury and disorders.
There are several different types of disorders which fall under the category of TMD, one of which is dislocation. This occurs when the mandible becomes knocked out of the temporal bone. Temporary dislocations are actually quite normal; you’ve probably even experienced one at some point in time. You may wake up and yawn in the morning and hear a light “popping” sound. Nine out of ten times, this is the mandible sliding in and out of the temporal bone. Temporary dislocations such as this are completely normal and shouldn’t be of any concern, but dislocations that persist and limit the individual’s jaw movements are not normal.
So, how do you know if you are suffering from TMD? Some of the most common symptoms include jaw pain, soreness, inability to open/close mouth fully, tightness in jaw or mouth, and trouble swallowing. The early morning hours is when most people experience the most symptoms related to TMD. If you are currently experiencing two or more of these symptoms on a regular basis, there’s a good chance you are suffering from TMD.
Because TMD refers to a broad range of disorders, the exact cause varies. With that said, there are some risk factors linked to TMD. Clinching and grinding teeth at night is one of the most common risk factors of jaw disorders. Pressing your teeth together stresses the temporomandibular joint, which in turn may lead to TMD. Other risk factors include gum disease, overbite, underbite, arthritis, and age.
A professional chiropractor may be able to offer some relief of your TMD. After performing a thorough examination of your jaw and the generating ‘chewing’ movements, they’ll advise you on the best course of treatment. This may include jaw manipulations, massage, heat/cold compress, and various physical therapy exercises. Strengthening the jaw muscles is key to preventing TMD from coming back.
Call or email the staff at AtlnataChioAndWellness.com to schedule an appointment today.