What is Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMJD)?


Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMJD) is when the muscles and ligaments around your jaw joints become inflamed or irritated. The condition may be acute or chronic, and the resulting pain may be mild or severe. 

Why Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction Occurs

Your temporomandibular joints are located on both sides of your face, just in front of your ears. They are responsible for connecting your lower jawbone to your skull and assist in movements like chewing and speaking.

TMJD can be caused by several mechanisms:

  • Teeth grinding
  • Jaw clenching
  • Arthritis
  • Stress
  • Acute trauma or injury 
  • An improper bite

If left untreated, pain and discomfort can worsen and the function and range of motion of the temporomandibular joint can be significantly affected. 

Symptoms of Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMJD)

Some symptoms of TMJD include:

  • Discomfort or tenderness over the generalized area of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ)
  • Pain when chewing or with any jaw involvement/movement
  • Stiffness around the TMJ and/or immediately adjacent facial area
  • A clicking noise or clunky feeling in the temporomandibular joint
  • Aching or radiating pain in/around the ear
  • Earaches
  • A locking or catching sensation of the TMJ
  • Headaches
  • Swelling of the face
  • Tooth pain

Diagnosis and Treatment of Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction

In most cases, TMJD can be diagnosed by

  • Observing the range of motion when the mouth is opened and closed.
  • Pressing on the face and jaw to determine areas of discomfort.
  • Palpating around the TMJs and surrounding areas as the mouth is opened and closed.

In addition, the following non-invasive treatments can help alleviate TMJD symptoms:

  • Relaxation techniques to help control muscle tension in the jaw.
  • Wear nightguards or mouthpieces when sleeping to control clenching or grinding
  • Don’t chew gum
  • Avoid hard, chewy, or crunchy foods that make the jaw work overtime
  • Acupuncture can assist with pain management.  Schedule your appointment with our acupuncture practitioner at Vaida.

How Chiropractic Care Can Help Patients with Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction

If you have been diagnosed with Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction or think you may have it, be sure to schedule an appointment at Vaida to be evaluated. Dr. Lydia and Dr. Emily can screen you for TMJ tension and misalignment and adjust you accordingly.  

Dr. Emily has received additional training on how to analyze and adjust her patient’s temporomandibular joints. Her symposium notes from a seminar on TMJD include this quote from Dr. M.R. Mally“It is estimated that the greatest quantity of proprioceptive fibers are within the body’s temporomandibular joints, making them significant in terms of overall balance, position and sensitivity”.

Keeping your TMJ aligned also lessens the stress of overtaxed jaw and facial muscles, tendons, and ligaments which plays a huge role in treating and mitigating the symptoms of Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction.

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