The tempero-mandibular joint (TMJ), or jaw joint is a powerful joint which helps us to chew our food. Dislocation of this joint is a common cause of headache, pain in the jaw, grinding of teeth, vertigo and eye-strain. Displacements of the TMJ are an important but rarely diagnosed cause of headaches and are often mis-diagnosed and mis-labelled as Migraine.
Symptoms of TMJ problems:
• Recurrent Headaches, commonly misdiagnosed as Migraine.
• Tightness in the jaw and difficulty in opening the jaw.
• Pain in the jaw and in front of the ear, above the ear or at the temple radiating to the neck and shoulders.
• Altered hearing.
• Eye strain
. Twitching or tics in the eyes or face.
• Difficulty in chewing due to an uneven bite or Misalignment of teeth
• Distortions of the face
• Clicking of the Jaw. Painful clicking or popping in the jaw joint may occur during jaw movement.
• Grinding of teeth at night leading to increased wear & tear on the teeth.
• Locking of the jaw in an open or closed position.
• Limited movement of the jaw so that it is difficult to open or close the mouth
• Difficulty in swallowing, eating, speaking or breathing
. Weakness or paralysis or pain of the muscles of the face or temple.
1. Injuries like car accidents, slaps, falls, punches, etc.
2. Trying to break hard objects with your teeth like bones, walnuts, almonds, and slipping of the jaw during the process of applying pressure. Can also happen while opening bottles with your teeth!
3. Dental work involving keeping your mouth open for long periods of time, like root canals, and extraction of wisdom teeth.
It can also happen during general anaesthesia and in patients on a ventilator.
4. Weakness of the muscles of one side of the face due to injury, strokes, Bells palsy, Cerebral palsy etc.
5. Stress accumulates in the jaw muscles, so stressful situations can cause problems in the TMJ.
6. Ear infections on one side.
7. Chewing food or chewing gum only from one side of the mouth.
This often happens when you have tooth pain, trigeminal neuralgia, Bell's palsy, Hemiplegia or ulcers in the mouth on one side.
8. Chewing Betel nut.
Combination of some of these causes can cause most of the symptoms described above.
Treatment of Choice.
1. Identify the causes of stress & try and tackle them.
2. Loosening of the temporalis and masseter muscles
3. Realignment of the jaw by a cranial osteopath.
I do this treatment in my Clinics’ in India.
Duration of treatment: 1-2 times a week for 3 months to achieve permanent results.
Temporary relief for this problem can be achieved in 2-3 treatments lasting 15-30 minutes. A permanent answer usually requires regular treatment till the joint has settled in place and the ligaments have strengthened enough to hold it permanently in place.
Prevention: Close your mouth every 2 minutes while having dental treatment.
Don’t bite on hard things like bones or break nuts with your teeth. This may displace your jaw.
Treatment of the Tooth Damage Caused by Grinding of teeth.
If grinding of the teeth has worn out the eating surface, consider coating the exposed tooth surface with glass inomer. This should protect the eating surfaces for 3-4 years following which the coating can be reapplied.