The jaw can be a source of pain, can also limit movement of the mouth, cause headaches, ringing in the ear, and neck pain. TMJ dysfunction is often due to muscular imbalance in the jaw and/or neck. It is one of the smallest joints in the body, but can be one of the most debilitating because we must frequently use it throughout the day when eating or talking.
One of the major causes of TMJ dysfunction is bruxism, a repetitive clenching or grinding of the teeth. This typically happens at night while sleeping, so people may not be aware of it until their dentist notices early wearing on the teeth or a spouse or family member may hear the grinding sound. Another potential cause of TMJ dysfunction includes activities where the mouth is forceful closed in a misaligned position such as in excessive gum chewing and nail biting. Degenerative joint disease, structural mouth and tooth issues, and neck and upper back posture can also contribute to TMJ dysfunction. It is important to assess posture because when posture is poor, it disrupts the normal mechanics of the muscles responsible for chewing, putting additional strain on the joint.
Physiotherapy is beneficial for people who suffer from TMJ issues. Physiotherapists, who have specific training in the TMJ, will properly assess not only the jaw, but also the neck.
Common treatment options:
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