Jaw pain is incredibly common. Upwards of 25% of people at any point in time are going to experience jaw pain. Jaw pain can happen for different reasons, but before we dive into the origins of jaw pain, we need to discuss some terminology.
Everybody thinks that jaw pain means TMJ but the catch here is that everybody has a TMJ. This is called the temporomandibular joint, which stands for the bones associated with the joint. Your mandible is your jaw bone that crosses your face and creates your chin. Your temporal bone is on the side of your head. Your temporomandibular joint is where your temporal bone and your mandible create the joint that allows your jaw to move.
When we talk about jaw pain or jaw dysfunction, it is referred to as TMD (temporomandibular dysfunction) or TMJD (temporomandibular joint dysfunction).
Watch this video to understand better why your jaw clicks!
This starts with the anatomy of the joint, and sadly the jaw is the most unstable joint in the entire body. When you look at the structure of the mandible and the temporal bone, you see a nice nook in the bones where each piece could fit perfectly for a nice ball and socket joint. Sadly, that is not how the joint is designed. Where the two bones come together, two rounded pieces sit on top of each other. It is essentially like trying to balance a basketball on top of another basketball. That is not easy to do and will greatly rely on the muscles, tendons, and ligaments surrounding that area.
This also puts a lot of pressure on the little disc between where the two bones meet. This little disc acts very similarly to the meniscus, allowing a buffer between the two bones so that the bones don’t rub against each other and cause pain. What can happen is due to muscle tension in our jaw, either from clenching or improper movements, that disc can shift forward. So when our jaw opens, the bone will run into that disc and force it to pop backwards. This creates that popping sound that we can hear. The same thing will happen as our jaw tries to close. It will start to run into the disc that is now too far back, forcing it to pop back forward into its original resting position. That is called an anteriorly displaced disc. These disc displacements can create that popping noise you hear when opening or closing your mouth.
Watch this video to see some of the treatments the Saskatoon Chiropractors at E3 use to treat jaw pain!
Watch this video to see some of the at-home exercises you can do to prevent jaw pain!
A significant aspect that affects jaw pain is neck function. The neck and the jaw are very close together, and one will affect the other. If you don't have proper function of the muscles surrounding your neck, this will affect the muscles surrounding the jaw. So part of rehabbing a jaw injury is rehabbing the neck!
Watch this video to understand some of the neck rehab that the Saskatoon Chiropractors at E3 use to strengthen your neck!
Don't let the nuisance of jaw pain stick around!
If your jaw hurts or clicks, click HERE to book an appointment with E3 today!