Your jaw or temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects the jawbone to your skull and work by using muscles, ligaments, capsule and a disc. Each component contributes to the smooth operation of your jaw. As a result your jaw is one of the most active, powerful and complex joints in your body. It moves up to 2000 times each day allowing you to talk, chew, yawn and sing.
Temporomandibular disorder (TMD) describes the malfunctioning of the jaw and associated structures. Disorders of this joint can cause jaw pain, stiffness, headaches, ear pain, bite problems (malocclusion), neck pain, clicking sounds or locking of jaw where it’s difficult to open or close your mouth. Sometimes people also experience dizziness and facial pain.
Although the exact cause of TMD may not be clear, possible causes include:
- Trauma that includes injury to the jaw or face
- Teeth grinding and clenching (bruxism)
- Habitual gum chewing or fingernail biting
- Dental problems such as misalignment, teeth extraction and orthodontic work
- Stress: It is common for people under stress to release nervous energy by clenching and grinding their teeth.
- Poor posture and occupational tasks or habits such as holding the phone between head and shoulder
- Diseases like that of Arthritis
There are many treatment options for TMD that can improve the function of the TMJ and relieve the pain. Here at Capital Clinic Physiotherapy treatment may include mobilisation, massage, specific exercises and dry needling.
Education about your condition and advice regarding lifestyle measures may include:
- Resting your jaw with a soft diet;
- Restricting movement with smaller bites;
- Use of both sides of your jaw to chew
- Avoiding chewing gum, nail biting and resting hand on your jaw with sitting and lying.
Furthermore assessing and reducing stress triggers will be important.
If you would like further information on the management or treatment of TMD don’t hesitate to contact us at Capital Clinic Physiotherapy on 02 6257 8900.