TMJ and Hypermobility

TMJ and Hypermobility

When it comes to hypermobility, all joints are impacted including the TMJ or Temporo-mandibular joint. Up to 75% of individuals with EDS experience TMJ symptoms, such as pain, clicking, or limited jaw movement. So often I hear people claiming their TMJ ruining their lives or their TMJ is getting worse day by day. In this blog, I will go over a brief anatomy of the TMJ, and why some clickings are painful and some are not. The common treatments and things you can do on your own to avoid pain and locking of this joint.

What Is The Anatomy Of The TMJ?

The TMJ is a complex joint connecting your jawbone to your skull. It consists of muscles, ligaments, a disc, and the bones of the jaw. TMJ is involved in the opening, closing, and side-to-side motions of the jaw and is crucial for activities like chewing, talking, and yawning. This joint is a ball and socket joint, like your shoulder and hip joints, and can dislocate or sublux. just like those joints.

Why Is My TMJ Clicking?

Clicking or popping sounds in the TMJ are common and while considered usually harmless by dentists and many clinicians, I disagree. Just because they may be not painful, does not make it harmless!!

pic of the skull with the anatomy of the TMJ

When painful it could indicate underlying issues with one reason being the displacement of the disc within the joint, causing irritation and inflammation. This disc is to follow the movement of the ball moving inside the socket but sometimes it gets pinched inside the joint, causing pain. Conditions like arthritis can cause pain which is typically caused by misalignment of the ball inside the socket and lack of proper joint movement. Remember the ‘harmless’ clicking that I disagreed with? This is why I disagree because these misalignments over time don’t necessarily cause any pain!!

What Other Anatomy Influences The Jaw?

The TMJ is heavily influenced by the neck and upper body through a network of muscles and nerves. Poor posture, such as slouching or forward head posture, can disrupt this interconnected system, leading to TMJ dysfunction and discomfort.

diagram of the neck and jaw

 

When posture is compromised, it can change the alignment of the spine, affecting the muscles and ligaments that support the head and jaw. This, in turn, can increase stress on the TMJ, contributing to pain and dysfunction.

What To Do For TMJ Treatment And Pain Avoidance

While Hypermobility Spectrum Disorder (HSD), Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS), and other connective tissue disorders are for life, there are measures you can take, and conditions you can pay attention to so your TMJ can be less painful and more under control. Following is what I remind my patients to consider preventatively and when in pain.

  • Dental Visit

Make sure to ask for small child blocks for all dental work. Lockjaw can happen at the dentist’s office when the jaw is open for too long and it locks in the open position.

Get your molars checked to make sure they are closing properly. When they don’t close on top of each other malocclusion can cause tension in the neck and your whole posture.

Not all dentists know how to check for Tongue tie so this may be a visit to an orofacial functional therapist. Some people benefit from this minor procedure and some do not see any long-term benefit.

  • Postural Improvement

Your posture plays a role in the position of your neck and your head and neck, in turn, impact the position of your jaw. Forward neck is a big player in this decline in the position so all exercises that assist in postural improvement become steps in the right direction. I only use Developmental exercises such as Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization or DNS.

  • Breathe Biologically

The number one step in the right direction for everything movement-related is biological breathing which is how we all breathed as infants to the first few years of life before it changes based on our injuries. Here is what biological breathing is done.

  • Jawning

Drop the head down when yawning, coughing, and sneezing. This minimizes and most likely prevents open lockjaw.

  • Food

Often when the jaw is in pain, we avoid eating solid foods but chewing is better than grinding so cut your solid food into smaller pieces and don’t eat salad so much!!

When eating, make sure you keep your mouth clothes and do not put your elbows on the table. The second part has to do with better posture of the neck and midback.

  • Tongue Exercise For Jaw

Dr. Mew is a dentist whose license was actually under review for being against orthodontics! He and his dad noticed the decline and problems caused by the practice of orthodontics and the impact it has on the face and jaw. The practice of orthodontics purely started based on cosmetics and nothing more. Dr. Mew suggests the following:

  1. Relax and close your lips.
  2. With your lips sealed and teeth in contact, lift your tongue and press it against the roof of your mouth.
  3. Repeat these steps multiple times as regularly as possible.

Chew Gum And Close Your Mouth When Eating

This will practice chewing and use the muscles of mastication, which allows better positioning of the jaw. The saying ‘if you don’t use it, you lose it’ certainly applies here.

Sitting To Standing Alert

Due to craniocervical instability, I suggest my patients with hypermobility drop their chin down and hinge their torso at the hips to sit and stand. This allows limited movement of the head over the neck which in turn takes some of the stress at the TMJ.

When it comes to hypermobility, it is so important to make sure you seek care from providers who treat patients with hypermobility because the normie treatments can often actually cause further issues. If you have hypermobility and are interested in learning not only how to avoid the pain of joint hypermobility but also how to live your life mindfully and based on your hypermobility, contact me.

Dr. Shakib

Recommended Reading:

What Are Signs Of Hypermobility?

Hypermobility And Pain Relief