TMJ Pain … Be Gone…

I had a patient that was going to cancel her appointment with me because she had a terrible pains in her jaw. Having her mouth open for an extended period of time in the dentist’s chair can cause that. She was afraid that being face down on an exam table would not be the best idea at this time. You see, she was diagnosed with temporomandibular joint (TMJ) by her dentist and her endodontist.

What is TMJ?

The TMJ is the hinge joint that connects the lower jaw (mandible) to the temporal bone of the skull. The joints are flexible, allowing the jaw to move smoothly up down and side to side. If you put your fingers lightly just in front of your ears and slowly open your mouth… well that’s your TMJ moving. So every time you to talk, chew, drink or bite your little sister, that’s your TMJ at work. The attached and surrounding muscles of the TMJ control its position and movement. We all use our TMJ hundreds of times a day. About every three minutes the average person is using their TMJ.


The Mayo clinic and webMD have similar information on their site as to the symptoms.
• Painand or tenderness around your jaw or ear.
• Difficult or painful to chew.
• Clicking, popping sounds when you open or close your mouth.
• Uneven bite.
• Grinding your teeth (there maybe many different reasons for that).
• Aching pain of the face and around the ears.
• Headache or migraines are common.
• Your ability to open or close your mouth has been reduced.

Simple indication test that you can do at home that you may have a TMJ problem, that you can do at home.

  • Face a mirror with good lighting.
  • Open your mouth slowly.
  • Look for deviation- going or angling from the midline.

Conservative treatments may include:
• Magnets
• Supplements (Jeffery B. Wheaton, DDS, MD )
• Bite plates (splints, appliances).
Chiropractics for TMJ
• Medication
• Stretching or massaging the muscles around the jaw (your doctor of choice can show you).
• Moist heat or cold packs on the face ( I prefer the cold, sometimes I have them put crushed ice in the area).
• Acupuncture

As Medline Plus stated “non-reversible treatment method, such as orthodontics or surgery, that permanently changes your bite.”

How chiropractor’s can help:

Evidence may suggest that chiropractic treatment provide the greatest satisfaction for the hands-on alternative therapies. One study revealed that chiropractic treatment using a specific adjusting instrument eased patients’ discomfort after only three visits a week for two weeks. Before treatment, patients reported TMJ-related symptoms lasting an average of eight years, but following chiropractic care, they experienced reduced pain and improvements in other symptoms, with no noted side-effects. I on the other hand (no pun intended) do not have a study to back me up, but have used an activator or my hand to adjust patients with TMJ disorders with success.

Reference: DeVocht JW, Long CR, Zeitler DL, et al. Chiropractic treatment of temporomandibular disorders using the Activator adjusting instrument: a prospective case series.
Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 2003 Sep;26(7):421-5.
Journal of Orofacial Pain. 2003 Summer;17(3):224-36.

The Dental-chiropractic Cotreatment of Structural Disorders of the Jaw and Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction
J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1995 (Sep); 18 (7): 476–481

Chiropractic Manipulation of Anteriorly Displaced Temporomandibular Disc With Adhesion
J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1995 (Feb); 18 (2): 98–104

I wrote this and posted it on the Examiner ( (July 8th, 2010), but seeing so many advertizements I found it hard to read.