Common Symptoms of Temporomandibular Jaw Dysfunction (TMJ)

Common symptoms of TMJ include:

  • Headache
  • Grinding of teeth
  • Jaw pain
  • Clicking or popping of jaw upon chewing
  • Neck, shoulder and upper back pain
  • Snoring or sleep apnea
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Pain and sensitivity in the teeth
  • Associated tingling in the arms

The jaw is a first responder to stress

Over 80 published studies show that a clenched jaw has a very high correlation to high stress levels.  Other high stress factors include elevated resting heart rate, elevated blood pressure and elevated muscle tonicity.  Leaning to drive your car, work your job, eat your food, live your life with a relaxed jaw can eliminate TMJ.  The jaw can be used as an indicator to approximate your stress index.  When the jaw is relaxed, stress is down.

Best options for treatment

  • Neuromuscular massage focused on head, jaw, neck and shoulders
  • Chiropractic focused on the O/A joint and jaw
  • Neuromuscular dentistry
  • Physical therapy combined with manual therapy

The above options work best when combined with neuromuscular education to teach the patient how to use self-awareness skills to keep the jaw relaxed.

Goals of Neuromuscular massage:

  • Relax and balance the four muscles of mastication (chewing): (temporalis, masseter, digastric, pterygoids)
  • Relax and balance the sub-occipital muscles
  • Relax and balance the cervical muscles especially the sternocleidomastoid, the scalenes, the upper trap and the splenius
  • Stretch and balance the muscles that attach to the clavicle, sternum, upper ribs and coracoid process especially pec major, pec minor, anterior deltoids and the biceps
  • Help patient experience relaxation so patient can remember what relaxation feels like

Goals of Neuromuscular education:

  • Teach awareness exercise for monitoring jaw tension
  • Teach exercises to allow the jaw to open to maximum
  • Teach self-massage to relax temporalis and masseter muscles
  • Teach strengthening and stretching exercises to achieve perfect jaw alignment

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