At Balance Orlando, we treat TMJ problems with approval and recommendation of a local dentist!
What is TMJ Disorder?
“TMJ Disorder” refers to any acute or chronic problem with the joint that connects the mandible (or jawbone) to the temporal bone (cheekbone). The temporomandibular joint is essential for biting, chewing, speaking, swallowing, but also for facial expressions, so someone with TMJD might have not only problems chewing and speaking, but also being social in general.
All of the muscles, ligaments, connective tissues around the mouth, cheeks, neck, and even the cervical and thoracic spine can contribute to TMJD.
What are the symptoms of TMJ Disorder?
The most common symptom associated with TMJD. Often described as dull and aching, the pain will be mostly located around the tempomandibular joint area but, as it radiates, it can cause pain around the ears and headaches as well.
Other symptoms include:
- A clicking or popping sound when opening or closing the jaw
- Difficulty or discomfort with biting or chewing
- Jaw pain and tenderness
- Headaches (including migraines) and earaches, particularly when they occur in the morning
- Tinnitus (ringing or buzzing in the ears)
What causes TMJ Disorder?
TMJ Disorder has a variety of causes including:
- Local area trauma
- Oral surgery
- Sinus or ear infections
- Joint pain associated with another condition
- Bruxism (an unconscious and habitual clenching of the jaw and grinding of the teeth, often at night)
People who suffer from TMJ Disorder tend to have difficulty relaxing. Holding tension in the jaw—as a response to stress, injury, or other areas of pain—will create enough chronic tension to further exacerbate the problem. A lot of people grind their teeth in their sleep, which doesn’t only contribute to the tension around the temperomandibular joint, it also destroys the tops of the teeth in the long run
How is TMJ Disorder Treated?
Because of the variety of causes, there are a variety of treatments for TMJ Disorder. Medication may help with some arthritis and other joint disorders. Sometimes reconstructive surgery may be necessary. Sometimes a splint, or mouth guard, to prevent nighttime teeth grinding may be in order. Even psychotherapy can be utilized to help patients deal with stress.
As with other behavioral problems, small changes of habits can have big effects. Using apps like “Headspace” or “Calm”, especially before sleep, can help reduce bruxism. Massages can be very useful for general relaxation and improve the quality of sleep, even when they are not specificially treating a disorder.
Bodywork is often beneficial when used in conjunction with other treatments. Trigger point and neuromuscular therapies can significantly reduce muscle tension, myofascial work can work out adhesions in the connective tissue and Craniosacral Therapy can significantly reduce stress. Rolfing® Structural Integration has shown to help by improving over-all posture and movement patterns. When the body is in better alignment with the force of gravity, the neck and jaw muscle tension needed to hold the head upright is greatly reduced.
Because the approach to treatment depends on the cause of the disorder, it is important to get a thorough evaluation first. We can refer you to Dr. Anne Reid, of Mills Park Dental, for further evaluation and treatment.
Most of the therapists at Balance Orlando have special education on treating TMJD and are further educated and supervised by Mimi Ravndal, LMT, George Engelhard, AP, and Lu Mueller-Kaul, CAR.
Dr. Anne Murugasu-Reid of Mills Park Dental has approved the training and has personally tested several of the therapists.