What Causes TMJ Dysfunction?

What is temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome?

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome is a dysfunction of the jaw muscles and nerves caused by temporomandibular joint damage or inflammation. The jawbone and the skull are linked by the temporomandibular joint. Pressure with chewing, cracking, crackling, and popping of the jaw; swelling on the sides of the face; nerve inflammation; headaches, including migraines; tooth grinding (bruxism); Eustachian tube dysfunction; and temporomandibular joint dislocation are all symptoms of an injured or inflamed temporomandibular joint. A temporomandibular joint disorder is another name for temporomandibular joint syndrome.

What are the risk factors for TMJ syndrome?

TMD is caused by a number of causes:

  • Neck strain and abnormal jaw muscle activity can be caused by poor posture in the neck and upper back muscles.
  • Muscle tension and jaw clenching can be exacerbated by stress.
  • Women between the ages of 18 and 44 are at a higher risk.
  • Patients that have other types of chronic inflammatory arthritis are at a higher risk.
  • People who have had jaw injuries or have teeth that aren’t properly aligned are at a higher risk.
  • People with a hereditary predisposition to pain sensitivity and stress responses could be more vulnerable.

How Is TMD Diagnosed?

Tooth loss, sinus issues, arthritis, and gum disease are only a few of the disorders that cause similar symptoms. The dentist will inquire about your medical background and perform a physical exam to determine what’s affecting yours.

They’ll listen for clicks, pops, or grating sounds as you switch your jaw joints, looking for pain or tenderness. They’ll even check to see if your jaw is working properly and doesn’t lock when you open or close your mouth. They’ll even assess the bite and look for issues with your facial muscles.

To rule out other issues, your dentist can take full-face X-rays to see your jaws, temporomandibular joints, and teeth. Other tests, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computer tomography, may be needed (CT). When your jaw turns, the MRI will indicate whether the TMJ disc is in the correct position. The bony detail of the joint can be seen on a CT scan.

For further care and treatment, you could be referred to an oral surgeon (also known as an oral and maxillofacial surgeon). This surgeon specializes in procedures involving the whole face, mouth, and jaw. You may also visit an orthodontist to ensure that your teeth, muscles, and joints are functioning properly.

TMD: Home Treatments

There are some things you can do to help alleviate TMD symptoms on your own. Your doctor may advise you to combine any of these treatments.

Take over-the-counter medications. Muscle pain and swelling can be relieved with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), such as naproxen or ibuprofen.

Use moist heat or cold packs. For around 10 minutes, apply an ice pack to the side of your face and temple region. Stretch your jaw with a few easy stretches (if your dentist or physical therapist OKs them). Keep a warm towel or washcloth to the side of your face for about 5 minutes when you’re done. Repeat this routine several times a day.

Eat soft foods. On your menu, include milk, mashed potatoes, cottage cheese, chili, scrambled eggs, chicken, cooked fruits and vegetables, beans, and grains. To chew less, cut foods into small bits. Avoid rough, crunchy foods (such as pretzels and raw carrots), chewy foods (such as caramels and taffy), and big or thick bites that cause you to open your mouth wide.

Avoid extreme jaw movements. Avoid yawning and chewing (especially gum or ice) as much as possible, and don’t scream, sing, or do anything else that causes you to open your mouth wide.

Don’t rest your chin on your hand. Keep the phone away from your shoulder and neck. Reduce neck and facial pain by practicing proper posture.

Keep your teeth slightly apart as often as you can. The strain on your jaw will be relieved as a result of this. During the day, put your tongue between your teeth to prevent clenching or grinding.

Learn relaxation techniques to help loosen up your jaw. If you need physical therapy or massage, speak with your dentist. Consider biofeedback and stress reduction therapy.


Are You Looking for Relief From TMJ Dysfunction? 

Pace Physical Therapy in San Jose, California specializes in non-surgical neck pain relief and recovery therapies for TMJ Dysfunction.  Physical therapy is probably one of the most common interventions for TMJ disorder if you choose to stop taking pain-relieving drugs and use a more holistic method. A thorough examination will be performed on your neck, shoulder girdle, and thoracic spine at your initial consultation with Pace Physical Therapy to decide whether those structures are triggering your symptoms. One of our dedicated physical therapists from San Jose, CA, will then develop a care plan based on the extent of your symptoms and your particular needs. Our physical therapists are patient-centric and committed to your health, working hard to help you manage and eliminate symptoms. If you are in San Jose, CA suffering from the symptoms of TMJ dysfunction, request an appointment at Pace Physical Therapy. Don’t suffer from jaw pain and stiffness any longer.