TMJ

TMJ Specialist
Temporomandibular joint disorder ranges from being a minor annoyance to causing severe pain that interferes with eating, talking, and generally enjoying life. Dr. Austin McMillin at ProActive Spine Care provides a variety of chiropractic therapies that can relieve pain and improve jaw movement. He welcomes residents of Tacoma, South Puget Sound, and University Place at his office in Fircrest, Washington.

TMJ Q & A

ProActive Spine Care

What is temporomandibular joint disorder?

Your temporomandibular joints (TMJ) are located on both sides of your face where the jaw connects to the skull. These joints move like a hinge because they’re responsible for opening and closing your mouth. Unlike other hinge joints in your body, the temporomandibular joints are also able to slide so your jaw can move from side to side. You need both movements so you can talk and chew.

Temporomandibular joint disorder refers to any type of pain or dysfunction in the two joints or the muscles connected to them. There are three general types:

  • Dislocated jaw or injury to the joint
  • Pain or dysfunction in the muscles that control the jaw
  • Arthritis in the temporomandibular joint

What are the symptoms and causes of TMJ joint disorder?

When this joint doesn’t work properly, it causes pain in the jaw and in muscles attached to the jaw. Sometimes the pain is felt throughout your face or around your ear. Your jaw may click or pop when you talk or chew. You may have difficulty chewing or find that you have trouble moving your jaw.

Temporomandibular joint disorder develops if your upper and lower jaw bones are not aligned properly. It’s also caused by arthritis, grinding or clenching your teeth, or injury to the jaw or surrounding muscles.

How does chiropractic care improve TMJ disorders?

Depending on the severity and cause of your TMJ disorder, Dr. McMillin may collaborate with your dentist to coordinate dental care with chiropractic care. Chiropractic care for TMJ disorders may:

  • Improve your ability to open your mouth
  • Eliminate pain
  • Treat tender points in your jaw muscles
  • Improve relaxation in your head, neck, and jaw

The type of chiropractic therapy you receive is tailored for your individual care. Dr. McMillin will consider methods such as massage and trigger point therapy to relieve stress and relax muscles, and stretching exercises to relax the jaw. Spinal manipulation in the neck may also help because dysfunction in the cervical area has been associated with TMJ disorders.

Dr. McMillin also offers low-level laser therapy. Low-level lasers gently stimulate healing, reduce inflammation, and relieve pain in a variety of musculoskeletal problems, including TMJ disorders.

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