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What is the Temporomandibular Joint?

 

Chiropractic care is usually applied in an effort to treat the neck and/or the back when pain, discomfort, or lack of range of motion occurs. However many of us are unaware of the potential for chiropractic care to reach far beyond the neck and the back to treat various other parts of the musculoskeletal system and other body systems altogether. A particularly important area of the body where chiropractic care is highly applicable is the temporomandibular joint, which is located in the jaw.

The temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, is where the skull is connected to the jaw. Two different regions of the skull called the maxillary region and the temporal region interact to allow the jaw to open and close. This process is guided by dense muscles that surround the joint and ensure that the jaw is opened properly and closed with enough force to break down food. If there is stiffness, inflammation, or improper alignment in the TMJ, then there is a significant threat to the musculoskeletal system as a whole and to the digestion process, which begins with breaking down food in the mouth.

Treatment of the TMJ is complicated as there is no true bone connection between the mandible, or the jaw bone, and the skull. Instead, the mandible is supported by the aforementioned dense muscles and other connective tissues. Thus, chiropractors are beginning to look towards a collaborative solution in treating problems with the TMJ. This involves working with a patient’s dentist to figure out a method for treating TMJ problems. A combination of dental therapy, which has a preventative focus when considering dental health outcomes, and chiropractic care can potentially allow the patient to increase their TMJ’s range of motion.

It is common for patients to experience TMJ discomfort or pain and seek care from their dentist but often times, the chiropractor can be of service too. In using the Atlas Orthogonal Technique, the chiropractor lightly adjusts the spine to restore proper order in the upper region of the spine. This could help the mandible fall back into place and allow the TMJ to move properly.

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