Many types of facial discomfort, especially soreness felt in the cheecks or when chewing, may be related to a condition called Temporomandibular Joint Disorder. Actually, you have two temporomandibular joints: one just in front of each ear. These are the highly specialized hinge joints that allow your jaw to drop away from the rest of the bones of your head, in essence opening your mouth.
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder can manifest as pain in the mouth or near the ears, discomfort when yawning, loud clicking noises, pain when chewing or eating, or an occasional scary episode when your jaw gets stuck in the open position.
Interestingly, one of the main causes of Temporomandibular Joint Disorder is not found in the jaw itself. This disorder can be a side effect of tense muscles in the neck, shoulders, or head, and is often related to poor posture, Upper Cross Syndrome, or even whiplash. Unusually tense muscles directly cause aberrant motion in the jaw joints and indirectly cause nerve dysfunction to other muscles as the body attempts to compensate for the abnormal muscle patterns.
Another cause of jaw pain can be asymmetrical chewing. If you have the habit of chewing gum only on one side of your mouth, the stress of fitting the jaws together is transferred to the small jaw joints and their delicate ligaments. Any damage to these ligaments, whether from trauma such as a punch to the face or from long-term irritation, can cause a wearing down of these joints and result in improper joint motion: Temporomandibular Joint Disorder. It is not unusual for chiropractors and dentists to work together to help resolve your jaw pain.
The jaw joint, like many other joints in the body, can also develop arthritis. Degenerative joint disease is another term for osteoarthritis, a long-term wearing down of the joint. Inflammatory arthritis can also impact the jaw with swelling from rheumatoid arthritis, among others.
Proper diagnosis of the cause of your jaw pain is essential before beginning any treatment regimen.
How We Can Help Your Jaw Pain
If the cause of your jaw pain can be remedied by chiropractic care, then by coming to Johnson Family Chiropractic, you are in the right office. The specially designed ligaments of the jaw are particularly sensitive to injury, and must be adjusted very carefully. The Activator Methods chiropractic technique is especially well suited to restore proper motion to the jaw joints, because the tip of the Activator is so small and soft. The Activator fits well onto the outside of the jaw, and can deliver a gentle thrust in the precise direction needed, without damaging the delicate ligaments of the jaw. The Activator is non-invasive and generally painless.
Dr. Johnson has seen many patients with jaw pain who do not require adjustments to the jaw directly. Often, proper adjustments to the muscles and vertebrae of the neck and upper back will relieve the tension felt in the jaws and temples. An excellent side effect of this treatment is often relief of neck pain and headaches. Dr. Johnson can also recommend exercises or stretches to help alleviate the muscular imbalance in your neck and shoulders.
Point tenderness around the jaw also often responds extremely well to cold laser therapy.
If you are curious as to the cause of your jaw pain, please contact Dr. Johnson for an initial consultation.