How Does Jaw Alignment Affect So Many Parts of the Head, Face and Body?


Imagine going through life with persistent, unexplained pain and other complications in the head, face and body. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), approximately 5-12% of the American population, or about 10 million Americans, suffer from a condition that can cause a whole host of physical discomforts, with the source of the problem arising from a seemingly insignificant location: the jaw joint.

Temporomandibular joint disorder, also called TMJ or TMD, is a very common musculoskeletal condition that occurs when the temporomandibular jaw joint becomes misaligned. TMJ symptoms can range from minor irritations to serious, life debilitating conditions.

One might think that a problem with a jaw joint would only affect a person’s mouth. In reality, the temporomandibular joint is positioned near the upper neck region. When the TMJ becomes imbalanced, the brain calls upon the nearby muscles to try to correct the problem. This is where the neck, back and shoulder pain and discomfort can stem from in relation to TMJ issues.

The ears can also be affected by a jaw joint misalignment because of the pressure placed on the tympanic bone as well as the surrounding nerves, ligaments and arteries.

Symptoms of TMJ

With the temporomandibular joint being such an integral part of a person’s jaw, any imbalance in this area can lead to a variety of mild to severe symptoms, including:

  • Jaw or facial pain
  • Jaw or muscle stiffness
  • Difficulty eating or speaking
  • Severe headaches or migraines
  • Jaw popping or clicking
  • Jaw locking
  • Difficulty hearing or ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • Ear infections
  • Sinus pain
  • Neck, back or shoulder pain
  • Numb sensations in the extremities
  • Teeth problems, such as broken, chipped or loose teeth
  • Bad posture, leading to impeded oxygen flow to organs and ultimately fatigue

Causes of TMJ

There is no single cause of TMJ. This condition tends to be more common for women, so there may be a link between TMJ and female hormones, but research is still being done on this topic. Some possible causes of TMJ could be:

  • Stress
  • Teeth grinding or clenching
  • Trauma to the facial or head area
  • Diseases, such as arthritis or Fibromyalgia
  • Poor dental care
  • Bad habits, such as nail biting or ice chewing

TMJ Treatments

People who suffer from TMJ must often try numerous treatment options before getting full relief from this condition. Some remedies include:

  • Pain medications
  • Stress reduction or other self-care techniques
  • Wearing mouth guards
  • BOTOX treatments
  • Surgery

Even though TMJ is not technically a dental issue, many people find relief after visiting neuromuscular dentists. Dentists specially trained in this area of expertise utilize a machine called a Transcutaneous Electrical Neural Stimulation (TENS) machine to relax the jaw muscles and determine the patient’s proper jaw alignment. Often a mouth appliance along with lifestyle changes will be recommended to help realign the jaw and correct the bite.


Source by Evan Langsted