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TMJ Treatment
at Buchar Family Chiropractic

woman with jaw painChiropractic care is for more than just low back pain, neck pain, headaches, and migraines. Our chiropractors see patients for a variety of musculoskeletal issues. TMJD (temporomandibular joint disorder) is one of the most common musculoskeletal disorders, second only to back pain. In fact, 12% of the population has a TMJ disorder at any one time. TMJ disorders can lead to difficulty chewing, talking, swallowing, and locking of the jaw.

When the TMJ doesn’t function properly the muscle structure in the jaw becomes tight which can lead to not only jaw pain but neck pain and headaches.

Common causes of TMJ disorders include:

  • Muscle tension
  • Issues with the temporomandibular joint itself
  • A dislocated or displaced disc in the TMJ
  • Degenerative disc disease or arthritis in the jaw
  • Increased stress
  • Teeth grinding

There are a variety of ways to manage TMJ pain. Eating softer foods, avoiding caffeine and other stimulants, using ice to reduce inflammation and heat to relax tight muscles, soft tissue massage, Active Release Technique inside and outside of the mouth, as well as specific jaw stretches and exercises.

How We Treat TMJ Pain

Comprehensive Consultation and Exam

At Buchar Family Chiropractic we always start with a comprehensive consultation and exam where one of our doctors will really listen to understand when the TMJ pain started, how long it’s been there, and how it is affecting your life. After we have a clear picture of the effects of the TMJD on your life, we’ll conduct a complete chiropractic exam that will include a functional exam along with orthopedic and neurological tests. We’re assessing the jaw’s range of motion, both opening and closing, and lateral deviation, moving the jaw side to side. This informs us as to the extent of the mobility restrictions in the joint. The goal in this phase of care is to get to the root cause of the TMJ so that we can create the most efficient and effective treatment plan for TMJ pain relief.

Specific Chiropractic Care

In our office, we address TMJ joint function in a few different ways. The most common chiropractic adjustments for TMJ pain are manual adjustments and using an Activator, which puts vibration into the joint for any type of deviation of the joint and improper movement. Vertebral subluxation in the cervical spine, or spinal misalignments in the neck, can sometimes be the source of TMJ pain. Subluxation in the neck can cause the neck muscles to tighten which radiates tension into the TMJ causing dysfunction. In addition to correcting subluxations and restoring proper muscle function, adjusting the upper cervical spine improves nervous system function which decreases stress in the body. This combats TMJ pain and improves the body’s ability to self-correct and heal itself.

Massage Therapy

A great addition to chiropractic adjustments is massage therapy and ART work that helps break up adhesions, lengthen the muscles, and work out any trigger points. Massaging the masseter, temporalis, and medial pterygoid muscles will improve range of motion, decrease pain, and reduce issues with eating caused by TMJD.

Nutritional Supplementation

Nutritional guidance and supplementation is another strategy we use to relieve TMJ pain. Avoiding foods that are hard, difficult to eat, and require a lot of chewing are obvious strategies to reduce TMJ pain. Supplementation is often overlooked. Fish oils, anti-inflammatory foods and supplements, Arnica, and CBD can really help to decrease pain.

Common Symptoms of TMJ Disorder

Pain is an obvious symptom of TMJD. Pain with any jaw movement like talking, chewing, and laughing can be mild to severe, intermittent to constant. Pain is also common in the neck, starting at the bottom of the skull and down into the shoulders. This can cause headaches, migraines, and difficulty swallowing. This pain can be caused by recent dental work, excessive chewing, trauma, and even degeneration of the TMJ over time.

Popping or clicking of the jaw is one of the more noticeable symptoms of TMJD. Sometimes this can cause pain and other times not. Over time this nuisance can get worse and worse ultimately leading to disc damage and hypermobility of the jaw.

This happens when the disc in the TMJ becomes displaced causing irritation and pain as the two bony joints collide with each other. The clicking and popping is the sound of the mandible coming into contact with the displaced disc as you open and close your mouth.

When the disc is completely displaced forward and does not allow the jaw to open or close, you get lockjaw. This prevents the mandible from translating forward to fully open the mouth. This creates pain, limits chewing, and decreases your quality of life as you may stop doing things you enjoy to avoid the pain.

Jaw clenching, especially chronic jaw clenching, is a common symptom of TMJ disorders. Usually caused by excessive stress and anxiety, the muscles in the jaw become tight and develop adhesions. Clenching can also contribute to other muscle-related issues, like tension headaches. This process doesn’t happen overnight, but over a long period of time through repeated bad habits. Relaxation techniques, mediation, a regular sleep schedule, even certain sleeping positions can help to alleviate this discomfort.

One of the most devastating symptoms of TMJD is difficulty chewing or pain while chewing. This is due to the limited range of motion from joint dysfunction or disc displacement. This presents people with the difficult choice of avoiding certain foods they enjoy or suffering through the pain. Over time this issue will get worse so it is critical to have it addressed right away.


What causes TMJ to flare up?

Neglect is a big factor. Not addressing initial pain and tenderness usually builds up over time to become a larger problem. Dental work, excessive stress, and teeth grinding are also triggers for TMJ pain.

Can chiropractors crack jaws?

In our office, we’re not going to focus on cracking a jaw. The goal is to align the joint into the correct position. The misalignment is responsible for the TMJ issues, so realigning the jaw, not “cracking” the jaw, is the goal.

What happens if TMJ is left untreated?

The unfortunate thing is that it will progress over time and get worse. It may get to a point where it really starts to impact your life. It may cause chronic headaches, not being able to eat certain foods, and being concerned about talking and being in public due to lockjaw. There are so many excellent natural treatments for TMJ pain there is no reason to not seek help.

Is TMJ a medical or a dental problem?

It can be considered both. Dentists may address TMJD with mouthguards. Chiropractic care focuses on the root causes of the issue to provide long-lasting TMJ relief. We want to keep the problem from getting worse and affecting your life.

What is a chiropractic adjustment for TMJ like?

We use soft, gentle adjusting techniques either with a very gentle manual technique or an activator, which is a special instrument that uses vibration to realign the joint. In conjunction with adjustments, we’ll use other modalities like stretching and acupuncture to provide instant relief and work towards a long-term TMJD solution.

Book an Appointment

If you suffer from TMJ pain, we want to help. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!

TMJ Treatment Aurora, Naperville IL | Buchar Family Chiropractic