PT Personal Trainers

Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction

"Snaps" and pain in the jaw during chewing, difficulty opening mouth, jaw stuck that sometimes even disengages? Your problem has a name, temporo-mandibular dysfunction (TMD). 

TMD is the functional alteration of the jaw joint (Temporal-Mandibular Joint - TMJ) that compromises mastication, swallowing, speech and facial expression.

There is no single cause for TMD. This dysfunction has a multifactorial nature, although, as a rule, women in the fertile age are the group with the highest incidence.

Within the causes for this problem we find muscular hyperactivity, traumas, emotional stress, chewing gum often, the habit of nail biting, among many other causes.

Emotional stress is an important risk factor, since not managing emotions we end up adopting certain facial expressions and nervous tics, as escapism. The constant repetition of these bad habits, such as grinding of the teeth (bruxism), clenching of the jaws, biting of the lips or the cheeks, in medium / long term can cause this pathology.

Did you know that TMD can also cause severe headaches, pain and ringing in the ears, pain in the face and neck?

Nothing like complementary diagnostic tests and the advice of a Doctor or physiotherapist to see if someone fits this type of dysfunction. An x-ray, CT scan or magnetic resonance imaging are the tests performed, being the last two the most conclusive.

Physical therapy helps immensely to minimize or even eliminate these disabling symptoms. Rehabilitation consists of: recovering the articular and muscular balance of the area, relieving joint pain associated with movement, minimizing pain on the face and neck, increasing joint range of motion and cervical mobility, correcting postural changes and TMJ.

The snaps are not the most troublesome situation, its normal to snap other joints, this will be no exception. When the snap is not followed by pain, it occurs either due to hypertrophy of the articular muscles or by imbalance between them. If this situation inhibits it socially, there are certain techniques within physiotherapy that can re-educate the muscles and minimize the frequency and intensity of the snaps.

Be aware of your daily habits and posture, remember that the healthiest oral position not to generate any kind of dysfunction is with the lips together, teeth very slightly apart (about 2mm) and tongue at rest.

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Text by Lígia Santos