TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint Disorder)

Understanging Jaw Pain and Your TMJ

Your Temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, is a sliding hinge joint which connects your jaw bone to the skull. The joint is separated by an articular disc which acts as a cushion and enables the jaw to open widely and rotate or glide. Jaw muscles and ligaments provide stability and assist with biting, chewing, swallowing and talking. Due to its constant daily use the TMJ can be a frequent source of pain.

TMJ dysfunction can cause varying degrees of pain followed by restricted movement, difficulty chewing/swallowing, bite problems, locking, clicking, popping, ear pain, headaches and neck pain. These problems can be detrimental to a person’s quality of life and because they are difficult to manage frequently become chronic conditions. Emotional stress and anxiety frequently results in tooth clenching and perpetuates the TMJ dysfunction. Many TMJ complaints also involve the neck or cervical spine due to the TMJ muscle attachment points in the head and neck.

Due to the complex nature of the TMJ proper diagnosis and management is essential. Chiropractic care focuses on restoring proper TMJ motion by balancing the jaw muscles to reduce the pressure on the joint and disc. Proper movement patterns are reinforced with exercises in addition to the office treatments.

Dr. Joseph Merckling has given lectures on the non-surgical conservative chiropractic treatment of the TMJ to Suffolk county dentists and oral surgeons and the New York State Chiropractic Association.