TMJ and Jaw Chiropractic in Austin, TX
What is the temporomandibular joint (TMJ)?
The temporomandibular joint connects the lower jaw to the base of the skull. There is a joint on each side of your lower jaw, just in front of your ears. These joints work synergistically, helping you move your lower jaw forward, backward, and side to side while talking, eating, or yawning.
When your TMJ is in good health, you don’t experience any painful jaw symptoms. Any pathological condition that does not allow a complex system of muscles, ligaments, and bones forming TMJ to work properly leads to temporomandibular dysfunction.
Jaw misalignments can occur in a variety of different ways. Some of the most common ways a jaw becomes misaligned are through stressful clenching, teeth grinding at night, past whiplash injuries, ear-popping, and neck misalignments. This misalignment often leads to jaw pain (TMJ pain), dental issues, headaches, slurred speech, jaw popping or clicking, lockjaw, and even neck pain.
According to the National Institutes of Health, more than 30 conditions may lead to TMJ pain and dysfunction.
Some common TMJ/Jaw conditions we see are:
How to know if your jaw is misaligned?
Some questions to ask yourself to know if you have a misaligned jaw are:
- Does your chin deviate (move) to one side when you open and/or close your mouth?
- Do you hear popping or clicking when moving your mouth?
- Do you wake up in the morning with jaw pain?
- Do you get headaches when under stress?
- Does your jaw feel fatigued after eating?
What causes TMJ disorders?
Misaligned jaws often occur from a past injury. These injuries can include car accidents, whiplash, braces, dental procedures, head trauma, falling, improper sleeping, improper ergonomics, forward head posture, etc. For those who have been in car accidents, there is an opportunity to get car accident chiropractic treatment in Austin.
Besides an injury, degenerative-dystrophic changes and inflammation in the joints (arthritis) can contribute to the temporomandibular disorder.
The next (and not entirely apparent at first glance) possible cause of TMJ problems is spinal misalignment. Why is it that?
The spine coordinates communication between the brain and other organs. So, even a slight spinal misalignment may lead to increased muscle tension and pressure on the nerves in other parts of the body. A jaw is not an exception. But here is the good news: there are professionals in back and spine chiropractic in Austin.
The other possible causes of temporomandibular dysfunction that Austin chiropractors often deal with include:
- Prolonged absence of chewing teeth
- Chewing on just one side
- Constant or intermittent clenching of teeth (bruxism)
- An improper bite
- Regular stress
Tips to prevent TMJ pain and disorders
Here are specific tips Austin chiropractors recommend to follow to minimize the likelihood of TMJ disorders.
- Eat soft foods
To prevent increased load on the jaw, eat soft foods: soup, boiled fruits, and vegetables. Avoid hard and crunchy foods.
- Prevent the extreme jaw movements
People with weakened ligaments of the joint often experience TMJ disorders. To prevent such issues, experts recommend eliminating extreme jaw movements. For example, prop your chin with your fist to prevent your mouth from opening too wide when yawning. However, it isn’t easy to follow this advice in certain situations – say, when sitting in the dentist’s chair for long periods with your mouth wide open.
- Get corrective dental treatment
Next, be sure to undergo the necessary dental procedures like setting crowns, bridges, or braces on time. These corrective measures will help bring your bite into proper balance and alignment.
- Minimize stress levels
Finally, try to minimize stress in your daily life in Austin, TX. Practice relaxation techniques, meditation, and yoga classes.
Can you realign your own TMJ / jaw?
The jaw is extremely difficult to realign yourself, even if you are a healthcare professional. Austin chiropractors not only realign jaws but will show you different strategies and exercises to help you keep them in alignment. With that being said, the best way to realign your jaw is to see a chiropractor for specific and gentle chiropractic adjustments and do the proper at-home care to keep your jaw in its new alignment. In fact, we also work with other health care professionals to ensure that we do all we can to correct your TMJ alignment and keep it that way to prevent it from coming back in the first place. If you feel like your TMJ needs to be realigned, schedule your evaluation with one of our doctors today!
How to get your jaw back in alignment
The best way to get your jaw back into alignment is through a thorough chiropractic evaluation that often leads to gentle chiropractic adjustments to the jaw and upper neck. A comprehensive assessment is critical, especially since the misalignments are often only millimeters off and the adjustments are gentle. The gentle adjustments and specificity are what make jaw adjustments so vitally important to eliminate TMJ pain and popping. To see how a jaw is adjusted, check out this YouTube Video of one of our patients having her jaw adjusted for the first time ever!
TMJ Chiropractic Technique
The TMJ chiropractic technique can include:
- A manual adjustment by hand to the actual TMJ.
- Manual release of the surrounding jaw muscles (much like a deep tissue massage).
- Adjustment to the TMJ using instrumentation (activator).
- Manual adjustments to the neck.
- Jaw exercises.
When proper jaw alignment is restored, you often notice that all of your jaw complaints go away as well. To learn more about correcting your specific TMJ problems in Austin, TX, schedule your evaluation with one of our doctors today!
Can you pop your TMJ back in place?
We do not recommend trying to pop your TMJ back in place by yourself. In fact, we do not recommend trying to pop any misaligned joint back into place by yourself. This is because the TMJ is a very sensitive joint that can worsen if you try to fix it incorrectly. We recommend seeing a chiropractor for a specific evaluation and adjustment to ensure that your TMJ alignment is adequately restored. If you feel the need to pop your TMJ back into place yourself, please schedule your evaluation with one of our doctors today to avoid any errors!
Can a chiropractor adjust your jaw and fix a misaligned jaw?
Yes, absolutely! Oftentimes, when somebody has a misaligned jaw, they turn to their dentist or a medical doctor. These approaches can lead to expensive modalities or even risky invasive surgeries. That’s why chiropractic is the perfect first option since it is less costly and much less invasive. Chiropractors have often saved people tons of money, time, and energy regarding jaw pain.
Austin chiropractors are trained to evaluate and adjust every joint of the body, including the TMJ (temporomandibular joint) or the jaw. A chiropractic jaw adjustment is similar to an adjustment to all other body joints. It includes a thorough evaluation, history, and exam to discover exactly what is going on and what must be done to improve the condition.
Besides that, an Austin chiropractor will come up with a set of recommendations on nutrition, daily regime, and lifestyle changes to reduce stress in your life and stay energetic. As a result, you will get a customized chiropractic treatment plan tailored to your specific needs.
Schedule your evaluation with one of our doctors today! (link to new patient page)