TMJ stands for Temporomandibular Joint, otherwise known as the jaw joint. These joints are located in front of each ear and the body has a total of two. The TMJ is the joint formed by the temporal bone of the skull (temporo) with the lower jaw or mandible (mandibular). They are the points at which the lower jaw attaches to the base of the skull. By placing your fingers in front of your ears on both sides of your face, you can feel the movement of the lower jaw in the TM Joints.
The TM Joint is the most complex joint in the human body, moving each time we chew, talk or even swallow. Unlike the ball-and-socket joint of the shoulder or hip, the TM Joint is actually a sliding joint, allowing for an infinite range of combined movements. Placed between these two bones is a disc, just like the one between your back bones. This disc is primarily made of cartilage and acts as a cushion to provide protection from bone rubbing against bone.
A malfunction of one or both of these jaw joints can be caused by trauma, whiplash, malocclusion (bad bite), poor posture, teeth grinding or skeletal malformation. Any malfunction prevents the complex system of muscles, bones and joints from working together in harmony. The result is TMJ disorder, also known as TMD. It is estimated that one in every 4 people suffer from one of more TMJ symptoms. Because TMJ is known as the “great impostor” it can be difficult to diagnose without the knowledge of how the jaw joints, muscles, and bones work together.
Do You suffer from TMJ Disorder?
- Chronic, recurring headaches
- Click, pop or grating sound in the jaw joints
- Earaches, congestion or ringing in the ears
- Limited jaw opening or locking
- Pain when chewing
- Neck and throat pain
- Difficulty in closing the teeth together
- Tired, tight jaws
- Pain behind the eyes
- Scalp tenderness
- Swallowing difficulty
- Inability to get a good night’s sleep
- Photophobia or light sensitivity
- Blurred vision and eye muscle twitching
- Trigger points in muscle
The Effects of a Misaligned Jaw on Posture:
“Sit up straight!” Your mother isn’t the only one who constantly strives to correct your posture. The many systems of our body are always working to maintain alignment. When something is out of alignment, such as the jaw joint, systems throughout the body adjust themselves in an attempt to stay aligned. The “head-righting reflex” is one theory about how the body will do all it can to keep the eyes on the horizon, as well as position the head such that the ears receive stereoscopic sound. The brain is the control center for this reflex.
If you think about chewing for a moment: The body can chew and still focus the eyes without having the head bob up and down. The body has an amazing ability to chew food in any head position. The head-righting reflex is so important to the body that it actually determines posture. The head will adjust to keep the eyes on the horizon even if it means the neck has to compromise it’s position. With the neck compromised and the head is no longer at the center of gravity, the rest of the body compensates and the entire posture will be disrupted.
Posture is a result of head position, not a cause of it. If a person has a bad bite or other factors with the teeth and facial bones, chances are the body has compensated somewhere for the misalignment of the jaw. This compensation can affect posture. Once the jaw alignment is corrected, the body will compensate again for the change. By integrating sacral-occipital chiropractic treatment along with jaw treatment, we help to improve posture and the result is a healthy body.
"I was able to positively change my life and I am more than eager to share this information to help others live free from what may seem like endless pain and headaches! We have answers you have been looking for, the understanding that you have real symptoms and are not 'crazy', and the compassion to listen to what you have to say."
Dr. Tammy Balatgek