The temporomandibular (tem-puh-roe-man-dib-u-lur) joint TMJ acts as a sliding hinge that connects the jawbone to the skull. There is one joint on each side of the jaw. TMJ jaw disorders are also known as temporomandibular disorders – TMD. These disorders affect the connecting point between the jaw and the skull that causes swelling and pain in the joint and the muscles that control movement. The disorder can be caused by a combination of factors, like stress, genetics, arthritis, or injury. The symptoms, pain, and discomfort are often temporary and can be relieved with self-care and nonsurgical treatment like chiropractic.
If the jaw is not moving correctly or becomes imbalanced, it can stress the temporomandibular joint. If this happens, the jaw muscles and the neck and shoulder muscles can tense up and over time become fatigued as they overwork to compensate and keep the jaw balanced. The bones that interact in the joint are covered with cartilage and are separated by a small shock-absorbing disc to maintain smooth movement. Jaw disorders can happen if:
- The disc erodes or moves out of alignment.
- The joint’s cartilage is damaged by arthritis.
- The joint is damaged by impact trauma like hitting the head from a fall or sports accident.
- Individuals that have been in an automobile accident.
Other factors include:
- Tension or stress can cause individuals to grind or clench their teeth, known as bruxism.
- Dental work
- Misaligned spine
- Autoimmune diseases
Symptoms of TMJ vary from case to case. These symptoms might include:
- Problems with opening or closing the mouth
- Difficulty or pain while chewing
- Pain or tenderness of the jaw
- Pain in one or both of the temporomandibular joints
- Aching facial pain
- Neck and shoulder pain
- Aching pain in and around the ear
- Locking of the joint
- Clicking sound
- Grating sensation
Chiropractors can help with TMJ by alleviating tension and dysfunction in the shoulder, neck, and jaw. Once the dysfunction is relieved, it reduces the pressure on various nerves. Treatment includes:
- Manipulation of the jaw joint so it can move easily
- Relief of the muscle tension near the jaw
- Eating soft foods
- Reducing stress and tension
- Wearing dental splints
- Physical therapy rehabilitation
- Jaw release exercises
The Glycemic Index
Not all carbs are equal, with some having a more significant effect on insulin levels than others. For individuals with diabetes or insulin resistance, this is important. A food’s Glycemic Index – ranging from 0 to 100 – indicates how a particular carbohydrate will affect blood sugar and insulin levels.
- Foods that digest quickly are high on the index.
- Foods that digest slowly are lower on the index.
Foods high on the GI scale, include potatoes and white bread, are quickly broken down. This is what happens when going through a sugar rush that comes crashing down minutes later. Foods low on the GI scale, include sweet potatoes and whole oats, are digested gradually. This results in a steady rise in blood sugar levels. The following factors may influence the GI scale:
- The more processed the food, the higher the GI.
Fat and acid content
- Foods high in fat, acid, or carbs eaten with fat or acid tend to have a lower GI.
- Fiber slows down the rate of digestion, leading to a gradual, healthy rise in blood sugar levels.
- Ripened fruits tend to have a higher GI than unripened fruit.
Alcantara, Joel et al. “Chiropractic care of a patient with temporomandibular disorder and atlas subluxation.” Journal of manipulative and physiological therapeutics vol. 25,1 (2002): 63-70. doi:10.1067/mmt.2002.120415
DeVocht, James W et al. “A pilot study of a chiropractic intervention for management of chronic myofascial temporomandibular disorder.” Journal of the American Dental Association (1939) vol. 144,10 (2013): 1154-63. doi:10.14219/jada.archive.2013.0034
Pavia, Steven et al. “Chiropractic Treatment of Temporomandibular Dysfunction: A Retrospective Case Series.” Journal of chiropractic medicine vol. 14,4 (2015): 279-84. doi:10.1016/j.jcm.2015.08.005
Rubis, Lisa M et al. “A collaborative approach between chiropractic and dentistry to address temporomandibular dysfunction: a case report.” Journal of chiropractic medicine vol. 13,1 (2014): 55-61. doi:10.1016/j.jcm.2013.10.003