While the causes of TMJ can be related to direct trauma to the jaw joint, such as a blow to the jaw, the cause is unclear and/or unknown in many cases. Misalignment should always be considered and evaluated by a specialized dentist.
Other contributing factors can include developmental and/or congenital abnormalities, teeth clenching or teeth grinding, bite misalignment, gum chewing, poorly fitting dentures, and systemic diseases such as arthritis and fibromyalgia that manifest in the jaw.
There are many types of TMJ, and any one type may have more than one cause. Because the cause is unclear in many cases, you may not receive a satisfactory answer to this question. What will be clear, however, is the pain you feel from having TMJ.
According to The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, the most common form of TMJ is myofascial pain. Myofascial pain is pain that originates from muscles and connective tissue, caused by a trigger point. A trigger point is an irritable spot in a muscle that is locked into a deep and painful spasm. Most of the trigger points responsible for the myofascial pain associated with TMJ are located inside the mouth, and are difficult to treat.
Your chiropractor is trained to correct ailments, due to bone misalignments, by examining all aspects of your lifestyle. The first step is a complete medical exam including your medical and family history, as well as, life style habits and daily routines. They may perform x-rays that can locate a condyle head that is incorrectly positioned. A posture evaluation is performed as well as palpation test to determine the severity of the disorder and the amount of mobility.
Your chiropractor will also create a TMJ treatment plan that excludes surgery and medication. An intra-oral orthotic, or splint, can be fitted into the upper or lower jaw, and is designed to reposition the condyle head back into its normal position. If your TMJ is related to stress, several muscle-relieving exercises or stress-relieving therapies may be diagnosed. Some of these therapies would include, biofeedback, meditation, counseling, or massage. Treatments such as heat, ice, electric stimulation, and ultrasound are used when needed. The emphasis is on rehabilitation and return of motion through individually tailored programs.