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  • Writer's pictureLauren Burnham

TMJ Dysfunction

Updated: Jun 11, 2019


Little Joint, Big Problems

The average person’s jaw opens and closes around 20,000 times per day. Which is why disorders of the temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, are such bad news. Unfortunately, they’re also very common, with over 3 million people seeking TMJ relief in the United States every year. Whether you consider jaw discomfort an annoyance or a life-destroying physical problem depends on how bad your TMJ is.

Some of the symptoms of TMJ disorder (TMD) are obvious, like these:

  • Pain in the jaw muscles

  • A bite that feels “off”

  • No comfortable or natural way to hold the jaw

  • Clicking, popping, or grating of the jaw joint

  • Locking of the jaw

  • A jaw that opens “crookedly,” as if one side opens faster or wider than the other

Of course, it’s normal to have one or two of these symptoms at some point or another. A muscle strain, injury, or stress could cause the jaw to click or ache for several weeks or months. But with TMJ disorder, it never ends. In fact, TMJ disorder (TMJ-D or TMD) affects much more than just the jaw. Due to the complex connections between the muscles and tendons related to your head, neck, shoulders and the rest of you, TMJ disorder can cause problems far and wide:

  • Chronic headaches

  • Ear pain, pressure, fullness, itching, or “stickiness” with no apparent cause

  • Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears

  • Dizziness

  • Vision problems

  • Pain in the neck, shoulders and back

  • Dry mouth from decreased saliva flow

While TMD sufferers can try a range of treatment options such as surgeries, splints, orthodontic modifications, and Botox, the National Health Institute warns that the risks and benefits of these procedures still need more research. Experts strongly recommend sticking to the simplest, least invasive treatments possible such as mouth guards, massage, and relaxation exercises.

Here are my top picks for TMD self care:

Need help from a masseter master?  Ask for a jaw treatment at your next appointment at On Point Massage Therapy.

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