Jaw problems can not only be uncomfortable, but they can also prevent us from chewing and speaking normally. The temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, is a complex joint that allows us to open and close our mouth. The joint connects the mandible, the lower jaw, with the skull. Not only does the joint act as a hinge, allowing for opening and closing of the mouth, it can also move side to side.
TMJ disorders do not only create pain and limitations with the jaw. Oftentimes, there are associated issues with the neck, face, and ears. Common complaints that come along with TMJ problems are earaches, neck aches, headaches, and facial pain. People will often complain of clicking or popping of the jaw, tooth grinding or clenching, or the jaw may “catch” when trying to open or close the mouth.
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The Upper Cervical Chiropractic Solution to Jaw Problems
There is a logical explanation for why people who suffer from TMJ pain also experience neck and ear pain. The connection is in the uppermost vertebra of the neck – the atlas. The atlas rests at the top of the spine, just behind the joints of the jaw on each side. It is designed to bear the weight of the head and is also responsible for the majority of the head’s range of motion. When the atlas misaligns, which can happen due to injury or wear and tear, it can affect the way the jaw is able to work. Additionally, it can irritate nerves that control the muscles of the neck, ear, jaw, and face. This can lead to dysfunction of the TMJ and its associated pains.
Upper cervical chiropractors specialize in determining the exact nature of atlas misalignments since it can misalign differently in each individual. Once that is accomplished, correcting the misalignment is gentle and precise. For many, this can lead to a long-term solution to chronic TMJ pain and problems.
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