A temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJD) can be challenging to deal with. But as an upper cervical chiropractor in Oklahoma, this is one condition I provide relief for here at Precision Chiropractic.
Experts consider the TMJ to be a complicated joint in the body. It connects the lower part of the jaw (called the mandible) to both temporal bones of the skull located on the right and left side of the head.
Because of this joint, the jaw can hinge open and close, move side to side, and glide forward and backward. The broad range of motion enables us to speak, yawn, chew, and make facial expressions.
TMJ dysfunctions sometimes come with extreme pain. Sufferers experience pain and tenderness over and around the jaw and have a limited range of motion. They also can experience popping, grating, and clicking noises as their jaw moves, along with earaches, headaches, and neck pain.
Self-Care Options for TMJD Relief
If you’re dealing with TMJD, here are some self-care options which can help provide TMJ relief:
Stay away from hard-to-chew food
This is pretty self-explanatory. Giving your jaw a break from working too much can help alleviate the pain of TMJD. Examples of food to avoid are apples and corn on the cob. If you can, stay away from chewing gum, as well. Instead, go for soft yet satisfying options like fruit shakes and healthy soups.
Applying ice to a sore part of the body is almost always a viable option, and that includes the jaw. Focus on the painful and tender TMJ and ice for 10-15 minutes on each side. The coldness can help ease inflammation, reduce pain, and promote healing.
Similarly, applying heat to a troubling area caused by TMJD is helpful. It can also cause tight muscles to relax, lowering the pain and discomfort in the area. Applying heat to the affected area also eases the neck tension and headaches associated with TMJD.
Stay away from stress
Too much stress can cause jaw muscles to clench and tense up. But practicing relaxation techniques can help reduce stress and promote relaxation. Some suitable activities to engage in are meditation, yoga, and deep breathing exercises.
Adjust your sleeping position
The best sleeping positions for TMJD are on the side and back. Keeping the body at these angles also maintains a neutral alignment for the spine and neck. On the other hand, sleeping on your stomach can cause unnecessary pressure. It is ideal to sleep on your back since there is no pressure placed on the jaw at all. It can also lessen the likelihood of teeth grinding while asleep.
If you’re dealing with TMJD, letting your jaw relax and move freely could be painful. Instead, keep the tip of your tongue connected to the roof of your mouth while doing so. Doing this helps prevent over-extending the jaw and having it lock open.
Neck Correction to Help Reduce TMJD Problems
The posture of the neck helps in both the functional movement and the resting position of the jaw. The connection between the head and neck is the C1 atlas vertebra. It is the bone that balances the weight of the head and allows it to move in different directions.
A misalignment in the atlas can affect the jaw because of it’s close proximity to the jaw and it’s connection to the muscles and nerves in the face and neck. There are several ways that an atlas misalignment can happen:
Particularly in a motor vehicle accident, even accidents at low speeds can cause a misalignment. When whiplash occurs, the neck is moved quickly in a jerking or jarring motion.
Repetitive use injury
As the name suggests, these injuries happen when there are repetitive movements. Several jobs entail repetitive motions, like cleaning teeth for dentists, hanging drywall for construction work, and cutting hair. Because their bodies are kept at a specific position for a long time, it causes tension, which includes tension the neck that can pull the vertebrae from their proper positions.
Whether it’s heading a soccer ball, colliding with another player, slipping on a wet field, or falling on the ground, these sports-related accidents can quickly cause injuries. Wear and tear of the components of the cervical spine over time can also result in misalignments.
Any misalignment of the atlas may cause unequal muscle tension, which ultimately affects the jaw. It can also interfere with nerve signals that coordinate jaw function. This is why the close relationship between the head and neck results in TMJD sufferers experiencing neck pain, headaches, and earaches.
Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care for TMJD
As an upper cervical chiropractor in Oklahoma, I am in a unique position to help people suffering from TMJD pain and discomfort. My methods are meant to address the root of the problem, which is the abnormal positioning of the atlas vertebra.
At Precision Chiropractic, I use a precise and gentle method to correct atlas misalignments. My primary goal is to restore normal function and optimize the body’s ability to heal naturally.
Instead of the traditional chiropractic methods, the upper cervical chiropractic adjustments are tailored specifically for each patient, based on x-rays and exam findings. The adjustments are surprisingly gentle and tend to result in a longer-lasting correct alignment.
Because the adjustments are so precise, we use very little force to make the necessary correction.
If you are in search of an upper cervical chiropractor in Oklahoma, Precision Chiropractic is here to serve you. I offer a complimentary consultation to explore what options are available for you and explain how I can help. Call today or fill out our website’s contact form to schedule an appointment.
Frequently Asked Questions About TMJ
Can TMJ go away on its own?
Minor TMJ discomfort will usually go away without treatment. However, anyone with the following TMJ symptoms should consider an evaluation to prevent or avoid future issues.
How long does it take for TMJ to go away?
TMJ syndrome is self-limiting. Most of the symptoms disappear in two weeks once the jaw is rested.
Does sleeping help TMJ?
Sleeping on your back is going to be the best position if you suffer from TMJ, another TMD, or orofacial pain.
To schedule a consultation with Dr. Sheppard, call our Oklahoma City office at 405-378-3100. You can also click the button below.
If you are outside of the local area, you can find an Upper Cervical Doctor near you at www.uppercervicalawareness.com.