TMJD - Can an RMT help?
Short answer - of course!
We are focusing our latest post on what TMJD is, what can cause it and how we can help relieve it.
What is TMJD?
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the joint that connects your mandible (lower jaw) to your skull. The joint can be found on both sides of your head in front of your ears. It allows your jaw to open and close, enabling you to speak and eat.
The muscles involved in TMJ pain are disorder are commonly:
- Lateral pterygoid
- Medial pterygoid
Nerve innervation for TMJ muscles: branches of the mandibular division of the trigeminal nerve (CNV3)
Aside from just an achy jaw, TMJ disorders can cause:
- Distressed sleep patterns
- Difficulty eating
- Clicking, sliding and locking of the joint
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Teeth grinding resulting in detal problems
2. TMJ and Headaches
They go hand in hand. Many migraine and chronic headache sufferers have secondary TMJD due to clenching their teeth when in pain, and many TMJD sufferers end up with headaches due to the condition itself.
No matter which one is to blame, treating the TMJD can help bring some relief from the headaches you may be having involving your jaw.
TMJD headaches most times have a distinct pain pattern. From below the cheekbones, to the joint itself, radiating into the temples and even into the eyes. This headache is one of the only that originates or causes specific pain in the jaw itself.
There is no one cause of TMJD headaches but instead a variety of factors could be at fault. Trauma or injury to the jaw, dental work, genetics, stress, general tightness of the muscles and joint dysfunction are some of the most common culprits.
Here are some of our favourite tips to ease the pain when a TMJ headache strikes:
- A warm compress to the area when the jaw feels stiff, gentle range of motion or stretching of the jaw muscles
- Focus on relaxing and unclenching when you notice your jaw is commonly closed tightly
- AVOID rubbing the area. This causes more inflammation. (We can show you exercises to decrease the muscle tightness that do not create more problems!)
- Book a treatment with us! Our practitioners are all trained in a variety of advanced techniques specific to TMJD (which we will be touching on later this week!) - so you know you'll be in good hands!
3. Sleep and TMJD
Sleep Bruxism, or grinding of the teeth at night is an incredibly common cause of TMJD and jaw pain. Although you may feel pain in the jaw throughout the day as well, here are some of the most common symptoms of TMJD due to sleep bruxism:
- Waking up with a tense jaw or your teeth clenched
- Neck pain, pain in the temples or into the ears
- Frequently waking with headaches
- A feeling of swelling in your TMJ joint when you wake up
Stress, anxiety, sleep apnea, consuming caffeine close to bedtime & nightmares are all factors related to sleep bruxism, however most times it is very hard to pinpoint one specific cause.
There are a number of treatments for sleep bruxism:
- Relaxation techniques before bedtime
- Eliminating caffeine after 2pm
- Gentle range of motion and stretching to the jaw muscles before sleep
- Mouthguards (ask your dentist for a proper fitting)
- Regular massage treatments to help break the cycle of muscle hypertonicity, allowing your jaw to be relaxed before sleep
- The number one treatment we recommend? Addressing sleep bruxism and TMJ before they get BAD! Many children, teens and adults grind their teeth and have pain in the mornings, but do not seek help as it seems to like "no big deal".
It is much harder to treat both TMJD and sleep bruxism when the conditions are advanced. By addressing it early, treatment is generally less invasive and more comfortable.
...And permanent damage to the teeth can be pricey! Hello crowns, bridges and implants - yikes!
Waking up in pain and with a clenched jaw? Book yourself a treatment today and let us help you get back to happy and pain free in the AM.
4. TMJD and Orthodontics
Who remembers their jaw absolving killing them when they had braces or a retainer? Ick.
Who has kids with braces right now? They probably aren't too stoked on the pain, even though they'll have lovely teeth in the end.
Who is an adult, finally getting around to creating the smile of their dreams? Painful but worth it right?
Braces and their colleagues can help correct a bite, boost self-esteem and even aid in speech - but hot dang they aren't the most pain-free things now are they?
Did you know that most types of orthodontics can cause some TMJ pain while they do their work? The clenching at night, moment of the teeth and general irritation can cause the joint itself to become angry and painful.
Now, we are NOT saying bypass the braces (we now love the braces we once had thank you!) - but don't forget to take care of your jaw while you are straightening those teeth.
Here's some great tips for when orthodontics are causing pain:
- Check in with your kids! Expressing pain/irritation from the braces is almost inevitable, but can you do something to help them out? If you catch them rubbing their jaw or saying it's stiff - book them in for a treatment and let's decrease that pain!
- Heat and cold. Whatever makes your jaw or mouth feel better, do it! Popsicles or a warm water bottle, adding some hydrotherapy can greatly decrease orthodontic pain.
- Take care of your neck! If the pain of your braces is causing you to wake with a stiff or sore neck, add some stretches into your daily regime. We will happily show you some.
5. Kids and TMJ
Some of the most common questions we get at the clinic start with "Can my kids get treatment for..." - and the answer is almost always yes.
Infants, kiddos and adolescents are incredibly similar to adults when it comes to musculoskeletal (bone and muscle) conditions. TMJD is one of the conditions that children should most definitely be getting treatment for!
Between the higher average of orthodontic work, increased stress due to COVID and the fact that bruxism is most common in younger age groups - they are prime candidates for TMJ treatments.
Children present with similar symptoms as adults (bruxism, sore jaw, headaches and problems chewing) - but you may need to prompt your child to explain just what is hurting. Keep an eye out for your kiddo rubbing their jaw or temples, waking with headaches or even saying their teeth hurt. A trip to the dentist first may be best if they have no history of TMJ issues, are not yet undergoing orthodontic treatment and have never been diagnosed with grinding their teeth. Impacted wisdom teeth, a tooth infection and even tonsillitis can present very similarly to TMJD in children!
Cleared for the above? Book them in for a 60 Minute Initial Pediatric Treatment. As with any pediatric treatment, we explain everything about the appointment to the child, always treat with a lighter touch and make sure they know they are in control - no scary treatments here!
We've covered lots of information about TMJD, but what is a treatment like?
Well,that depends on severity.
As with all appointments, a thorough health history will be taken and an orthopedic assessment will take place. This way you therapist will know what exactly they are treating, and will then be able to create the most effective treatment plan for you.
Treatment includes the muscles around the temples, the neck and into the jaw. We avoid using large amounts of oil anytime we are close to the face to ensure proper traction on the skin, as well as comfort for you! If warranted, your therapist may also suggest intra-oral treatment. This specific treatment involves the therapist donning sterile non-latex gloves (just like your dentist!) and treating the muscles from the inside of your mouth. This gives your RMT better access to deeper muscles and provides a more specific treatment. If intra-oral treatment is recommended, the therapist will always gain consent from you before moving forward, it will never be a surprise. We will keep you as comfortable as possible throughout the treatment and discuss various forms of homecare and exercises you can include in your routine to assist in your rehab.
Are you suffering from TMJD or think you could be? Book yourself in for a treatment here and let us help you decrease your pain and get back to living your best life!