When you visit us with jaw pain we’ll focus on 3 key muscles: the masseter, the temporalis, and the pterygoid. We’ll also pay close attention to the suboccipital muscles, jaw joint itself and the top 2 vertebrae because they greatly impact the jaw joint and we want to make sure everything is aligned properly.
Your masseter is a thick, deep muscle in the upper jaw area that plays a major role in chewing. If you put your hand on your cheek and open and close your mouth you can feel your masseter flexing. Your temporalis is a thinner, clam-shaped muscle on each side of the head. This muscle is crucial for chewing and covers a broader area than the masseter including your temples.
In the video above, Dr. Blake walks through some soft tissue techniques that you can do at home for the masseter and the temporalis. In order to work on the masseter, place two fingers flat against your jaw as shown in the video. Press in with flat fingers and then up to put pressure on your masseter and then open and close your mouth. From there, you can move up to the next part of the masseter and continue to do a total of 3 repetitions to complete 1 set of this exercise. If you’re having jaw pain, we recommend doing 3 sets of this exercise 3 times per day.
This same exercise can be applied to the temporalis as well. When working on the temporalis you’ll want to use all 4 finger pads as it is a broader muscle. Use the same movement and pressure as you did in the masseter exercise but remember, the temporalis will require less pressure than the masseter because it is a thinner muscle. We recommend 3 sets of this exercise on your temporalis 3 times per day for TMJ jaw pain.
Doing soft tissue work on the pterygoid is more complicated to do yourself so you’ll want to consult a chiropractor for this. As you can see in the video, the pterygoid release requires leverage against the cheek in between your cheek and your teeth. This is typically the most uncomfortable soft tissue to work on for TMJ because it’s often not as strong as your masseter or temporalis.
Once we’ve completed soft tissue work for jaw pain we move on to adjust and assess the jaw in a TMJ chiropractic adjustment. Dr. Blake feels for which side of the jaw joint opens the least amount and which one opens last to identify which side should be worked on first. We adjust the stuck side of the jaw first and then the other side with a light push motion. After this adjustment, we reassess and often find that the jaw joint is realigned. If needed, TMJ treatment can be combined with dry needling if the jaw is very tight or with a class 4 laser treatment to speed up the healing process of the tissue. Does seeing a chiropractor help with TMJ? It absolutely does and we treat many patients who have TMJ and the jaw pain that comes along with it. Do you suffer from TMJ?
common TMD/TMJD Symptoms
- Pain in the sides of the face
- Challenges while chewing
- Difficulty while opening or closing the mouth
- Severe pain around the ears
- Pain in the jaw
- Pain in the temporomandibular joints
- Headaches and migraines
- Neck, back, or shoulder pain
To alleviate TMD symptoms, you’re going to need to connect with the best Cumming chiropractor.
How is TMD Pain Treated?
For some people, TMD symptoms may disappear after some time without any treatment. In some cases, though, treatment is paramount.
When you visit our office in Cumming, a qualified chiropractor will discuss your symptoms with you. They’ll then examine your jaw to find where the problem is originating. The examination may involve listening or feeling your jaw as you open or close it.
They’ll also check whether your jaw has a normal range of motion. The TMJ specialist may also apply a bit of pressure on your jaw and surrounding areas. That helps them identify the pain points so they can recommend the appropriate treatment.
Our experts attempt to treat TMD through jaw adjustments or manipulation. The whole idea is to try and resolve the jaw’s structural issues. They’ll also guide you regarding the stretches you should practice to reduce pain in the affected areas. In case of excessive pain, our chiropractic care providers may use heat or ice to relieve it. We don’t hesitate (where necessary) to consult other specialists so you can receive the highest quality care possible.