Jaw pain is no laughing matter!
The jaw, also known as the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), is one of the most frequently used joints in the body. It is used for talking, eating, sucking and yawning. The TMJ muscles activate and oppose gravity to keep the mouth closed. When the mouth is slightly open, the TMJ is relaxed.
If you are experiencing pain in the TMJ, this is usually caused by an imbalance in joint movement because of poor bite, bruxism (clenching or grinding), or joint problems such as inflammation, trauma and degeneration.
The following may be indicative of TMJ dysfunction:
- Headaches in the temporal region
- Point tenderness in jaw muscles on the sides of the face
- Pain on full open or full close
- Lateral deviation of the jaw during movement
- Pain while eating
- Chewing food on one side instead of evenly across both sides
- Waking from sleep with jaw pain
- Breathing from the mouth instead of the nose
- Clicking during jaw movements
- Jaw locking
- Malocclusion, missing teeth or dental decay
- Clenching or grinding of teeth (bruxism)
- Bad habits such as chewing gum, biting nails, leaning on the chin and smoking
- Difficulty swallowing
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- Stomach sleepers
- Poor cervical and thoracic alignment
Everyday tasks such as sleeping, brushing your teeth or eating tough foods can be become difficult and painful.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, physical therapy such as chiropractic adjustments, massage and acupuncture can decrease pain, restore function and limit degenerative changes.