Does your jaw click, pop, snap, or cause pain when you open or close your mouth? These symptoms are the result of Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction and they are a lot more common than you might think. In fact, it is surprising that we all do not suffer from jaw problems considering the amount we smile, talk, and chew every day.

Temporomandibular Joint, which is abbreviated TMJ, is the name given to the two joints that connect your jaw to your skull. This particular joint is very unique to your body because it possesses a moveable disc. The purpose of this disc is to reduce friction and grinding of the bony joint surfaces. Like all joints in your body, the jaw is held together by tendons and ligaments. There are several muscles that have an influence over the function of the jaw; these range from external muscles like the masseter and temporalis, to internal muscles like the medial and lateral pterygoids.

Tension, spasm, or adhesions in muscles, tendons, ligaments, or the joint capsule, can produce TMJ symptoms. Here are some tips to help prevent the occurrence of TMJ symptoms:

Avoid chewing gum

Avoid eating/biting hard candy or foods

Cut up chewy foods (ie. Beef) into smaller pieces that require less chewing

Try to relax your jaw muscles so you don’t grit or grind your teeth

Perform self massage & stretch the effected muscles

Perform mirror exercises. Open and close your jaw slowly while looking into a mirror. Look at your chin and try to keep your jaw moving in a perfectly straight vertical line (with no lateral deviation). Keep practicing – your conscious effort will soon become subconscious

For persistent cases, ask your dentist about the effectiveness of a night splint

When people first develop jaw symptoms, they look to their dentist for help. Dentists and chiropractors commonly work together to help people suffering with TMJ symptoms. Chiropractic has proven to be quite successful in reducing TMJ symptoms through treating the muscles and joints of the jaw. If you are having troubles with your jaw, do yourself a favor and schedule an appointment with your Comox Chiropractor, Dr. Houlgrave.