Chiropractors are able to treat cervical spine conditions and associated temporomandibular disorders. This article will discuss the jaw joint, disorders of the jaw joint and how they are related to the spinal bones of the neck. It will also introduce a research paper that studied the relationship between problems with the jaw and associated neck pain.
Over my 35 years of chiropractic practice I have had many patients suffering from both neck pain and jaw pain. As I treated their neck pain, we commonly noted that the patient’s jaw pain also resolved.
The temporomandibular joint is commonly known as the joint of the jaw. It is made up of two bones. The upper bone is called the temporal bone and is found just behind the cheekbone. The lower bone of the joint is called the mandible and is commonly called the jaw bone. Together they make up the temporomandibular joint (TMJ).
When there is a problem with the TMJ it is called temporomandibular disorder (TMD).
A recent research paper revealed people with neck pain had a higher incidence of TMD than people without neck pain. The study published in the Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics, December 2018 found that 120 patients with a temporomandibular disorder and having neck pain exhibited poor neck and upper body posture, and concomitantly, had more problems with their TMJ.
Most people know that chiropractors are able to help patients suffering from neck pain. When there are misalignments and improper movement of the bones of the neck a chiropractor is able to restore proper alignment and movement and help with neck pain. This puts the entire upper body into a better posture. When upper body posture is improved the muscles of the neck and around the jaw joint are much more relaxed. In turn, this alleviates abnormal stress on the TMJ which allows it to heal and improve TMD.
We commonly see that people who are experiencing pain in their TMJ get relief from chiropractic spinal care. If problems continue with the TMJ, after receiving care in our office, I will commonly refer the patient to a dentist to see what help can be given. Most dentists will start with a conservative approach which might simply be something such as giving a person a mouthguard to use at night to keep from clenching their teeth. By receiving conservative chiropractic dental care most patients will see an improvement of the TMD. Before undergoing jaw surgery or expensive dental work for jaw pain seek a consultation for possible chiropractic therapy.