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TMJ (Jaw) Pain

What is TMJ?

TMJ temporomandibular joint dysfunctions occur when muscle imbalances occur possibly due to forward head posture, cervical or thoracic spine dysfunctions or simply when breathing from the chest.  This may be because of the continuous tension in the muscles that control the jaw maybe from working too hard to balance the system. Clenching or grinding you experience can cause TMJ or dental pain. Another consequence of intra-oral muscle tension is a gradual forward pulling of the intra-articular disc. Ultimately, this action can lead to an anterior disc displacement responsible for clicking and locking of the jaw. We can teach you how to normalize muscle activity in the jaw by giving you simple home exercises. You will be able to normalize muscle tension and control or abolish TMJ dysfunction. Sometimes gentle manual mobilization techniques are also appropriate if there is any tightness or shortened muscles.

Symptoms of TMJ:

Signs that you may be experiencing a TMJ Dysfunction include:


  • Teeth Clenching and Grinding

  • Headaches

  • Jaw Clicking, Popping, or Grating Sound

  • Ear Related Problems

  • Sleep Disturbances

  • Pain When Chewing

  • Limited Jaw Opening or Locking

  • Dizziness and Fainting

  • Pain Behind the Eyes

  • Difficulty Closing Teeth Together

  • Neck Pain or Stiffness

Things to Do if You Have TMJ:

  • Wear a mouth guard at night if prescribed by a dentist/ or else see a dentist

  • When yawning, support the bottom jaw with index finger

  • Sit up tall, especially when eating

  • Keep teeth apart when resting

  • Rest tongue on the roof of the mouth behind the front teeth as much as possible

  • Keep mouth closed with the lips lightly touching to promote nasal breathing

  • Repeat the exercises several times per day (at least 10x) i.e. every time at a traffic light, every time you look in the mirror, during TV commercials

Things to Avoid if You Have TMJ:

  • Avoid slouching and the forward head posture

  • Avoid chewing heavy meats, nuts, raw carrots etc.

  • Avoid taking big bites into burgers, apples etc.

  • Do not chew gum, pen, necklace etc.

  • Avoid intentionally clicking the jaw

  • Consciously avoid clenching teeth together

  • Stop nail biting

  • Limit speaking if it is an aggravating factor

  • Do not rest chin on the hand

How will physiotherapy help with TMJ?

Conservative treatment through physiotherapy in partnership with dentistry can provide significant relief of symptoms. Physiotherapy treatment includes pain management techniques, gentle manual techniques, and exercise to promote proper alignment of the body and jaw.  It will also include extensive education about the jaw and techniques you can use to help yourself recover.

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