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Dr. Jay Lipoff: The Temporal Mandibular Joint (TMJ)
By Dr. Jay Lipoff
“The reason we have two ears and only one mouth, is that we may hear more and speak less.” – Zeno
This is the joint on the outside of your cheeks in front of your ears. It is a delicate joint that allows your mouth to glide when it opens and closes. It can be injured by getting popped in the chin, a car accident, clenching your teeth, grinding your teeth or chewing gum. To nip this quick, stop chewing gum if you do have a TMJ problem.
About 35% of people with have some form of TMJ symptoms. I see many patients, including myself once, who have popping noises when they chew. An imbalance can occur in the muscles of mastication, or the chewing muscles: the buccinator, masseter, lateral and medial pterygoids.
TMJ can cause earaches, headaches, neck and shoulder pain or dizziness. Dentists can provide a mouth guard and medical doctors can offer some meds to help ease the pain symptoms you feel.
There were two studies published in The Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutic in 2002 and 2003 regarding chiropractic treatment of TMJ. Both showed positive outcomes with cervical, or neck, manipulation, muscle work and stretches. This might be another option for you to try if you have had no relief.
Many of us want our shoulders rubbed but who asks to have their jaw massaged? The fact of the matter is many of us ignore this region, yet we use it constantly. For instance, you use your jaw for talking and eating. Some of us do one of these too much anyway.
When these muscles get tight you need to stretch them too. Don’t worry you won’t have to bite on a dumbbell or anything. A bite guard can help protect your teeth but it won’t solve why you might be clenching your teeth or why the muscles are tight. Stress is probably the cause.
To summarize my previous stress relief article, here are a few ways to relax and kickback.
·Workout, play sports or take a walk and expend some energy and frustration.
·Pick up a good book or Magazine, crossword section or sew.
·Play a game; with the kids, away from the kids, on a computer or game console.
·Finish a project and remove it from your list. Accomplishing something feels great.
·Take dance lessons or join the cast of a local show.
·Talk to a longtime friend or family member; in person or over the phone and internet.
·Plant a garden or a flowerbed to nurture. Tough right now but you can plan for it.
·Adopt a pet. Many great pets are waiting for a family to cuddle with and give love.
·Crank up the tunes. Jam out with some friends or take a ride and sing away.
·Road Trip! Take a ride alone or with someone to a concert, show, a movie or for dinner.
·The gift of giving or doing something for someone else makes you feel good inside.
·Do something with the members of your faith. Become more active with a project.
·Make time to watch a good movie or a comedy at home.
·Take a hot bath, get a massage, see your chiropractor, try some yoga …do your body good.
·Take a nap. A midday nap can reduce cardiovascular disease in men & women by one third.
·Create, draw, sketch or paint. Have some fun.
·Bust out your camera and snap some shots or have a pro take some of you. Get them framed and then you have a perfect holiday gift.
You might also want to switch to some softer foods to decrease the amount of chewing you have to do. Maybe this is a good time to start drinking protein shakes or try juicing.
Applying heat or ice could also provide some temporary relief. In addition, your sleep position could affect your jaw. Sleeping on your back, mouth closed, or on your side, so there isn’t a lot of pressure on the cheek area, could help reduce the constant pressure of a night’s sleep on your jaw joint.
Put two fingers in the bottom of your mouth over your teeth. Pull down and stretch your mouth open. Theoretically we are supposed to be able to open our mouths and fit three middle knuckles from a fist into our mouths. Some people can fit their foot in their mouths, so for them this shouldn’t be too difficult of a stretch.
Likewise you can glide your palms, or the meaty part below your thumb region, along the side of your jaw as you open your mouth. This massages the muscles when you open the jaw. Don’t worry about looking silly doing these exercises; I have a worse one yet.
Take the palm and place it on the side of your chin. Gently push the lower jaw to one side, hold it there for a second or two and let go. Do this for both sides. This will stretch the little pterygoid muscles that open and close the mouth. Take your time doing these in the privacy of your home, while driving or during TV commercials. They may do the trick.
These topics come from my book, “Back At Your Best; Balancing the Demands of Life With the Needs of Your Body.” It is available in book and Kindle format at Amazon, www.BAYBBook.com and at my office.
Thank you to everyone who has email questions. If you have any type of personal health concerns or questions, feel free to email me at DrJay@BackAtYourBest.com. I will answer them in private or in this section in a week or two.
Dr. Jay M. Lipoff is the owner of Back At Your Best Chiropractic & Physical Therapy, LLC, which is located in the Wildewood Shopping Center. He received his Bachelor of Science degree from Syracuse University in 1990, a Doctorate of Chiropractic (D.C.) from New York Chiropractic College (NYCC) in 1994 and he became a Certified Fitness Trainer (CFT) in 2005.
Dr. Lipoff is an Executive Board Member, International Chiropractic Association Council on Fitness and Sports Health Science; has a radio segment: Back At Your Best in 5 Minutes or Less, Co-Founder, Drug Free Training USA; Member, NY Strength-promoting the importance of physical conditioning; Board Member of Public Relations Committee, Maryland Chiropractic Association; has done over 15 nationally broadcasted radio interviews, has articles in print and referenced in over 100 print papers, magazine and on websites, President, Wildewood Business Network-promoting better business relations and community outreach.
* DISCLAIMER: THIS ADVICE AND ANY OPINIONS MENTIONED ARE THAT OF DR. JAY LIPOFF AND NOT OF THE BAYNET.
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