Chiropractic care to keep you fit, active and healthy


Jaw pain is more than just a sore tooth

| By Dr Debbie Tan (Chiropractor)




The jaw, also known as the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a hinge joint that may cause pain and tenderness when it is not functioning properly, due to dysfunction of the TMJ and the muscles around the joint.1 This condition is named TMJ (temporomandibular joint) syndrome.

There’s 3 types of causes for the jaw pain:1,2

  1. Muscular pain
  2. Internal damage/dysfunction
  3. Wear and tear (degeneration joint disease)

The TMJ syndrome predominantly presents itself mainly in the form of pain in the joint and masticatory muscles, as well as causing a locked jaw and restricted jaw movement. It may also involve the radiation of pain down the face, neck and shoulders, headaches, earaches, dizziness and painful clicking in the TMJ during the opening or closing of the jaw.2,3 In addition, pain intensifies with jaw movement and palpation of the masseter muscle induces pain.1 More predominantly in females compared to males (4:1) and occurs mainly in the 20-40’s age group.2

Other causes of TMJ syndrome include joint diseases (e.g. arthritis), malocclusion, trauma from prolonged mouth opening, dental conditions, hypermobility of the joint, a displaced articular disc and stress which leads to clenching of teeth.1,4

Management for TMJ syndrome include the use of occlusal splints to reduce muscle hyperactivity due to bruxism and clenching, heat and ice application, and massage which helps to reduce inflammation and pain.1,5 Active and passive jaw movements have also shown to be effective in reducing pain. A strict soft diet and the reduction of hard food items is highly recommended also highly recommended.5 For chronic conditions, imaging may be required – such as an MRI.1 This will help determine if it is conservative or surgical case.

There have been studies to show that chiropractic care and management of TMJ syndrome is effective in reducing some of the symptoms such as pain, clicking of the jaw and a locked jaw.6 We highly recommend you to visit a chiropractor who may be able to relieve some of your symptoms. We also recommend seeing your dentist specialised in TMJ syndrome if conservative care is proving ineffective. They would also help advise on splints, night guards and assess for dental issues or even potential abscesses that may occur.

For more information, please contact us through the prompts above to address your TMJ pain/syndrome.

  1. Vallerand AH, Russin MM, Vallerand WP. Taking the Bite out of TMJ Syndrome. Am J Nurs. 1989;89(5):688-90. doi: 2307/3470767
  2. Tsai V, Heffer SM, Sinert, RH. Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome. Medscape [article on the Internet]. Available from: [Accessed 26.07.2016]
  3. Ireland, R. A Dictionary of Dentistry [e-book]. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 2010 [cited 28 Jul 2016]. Available from: Oxford Reference Online
  4. Kropmans T, Dijkstra P, Stegenga B. The association between generalized joint hypermobility and temporomandibular joint disorders: A systematic review. J Dent Resh [serial online]. 2002 [2016 Jul 28];81(3):158-63. Available from: ProQuest.
  5. Tanaka E, Detamore MS, Mercuri LG. Degenerative disorders of the Temporomandibular joint: etiology, diagnosis, and treatment. J Dent Resh. 2008;87(4):296-307. doi: 10.1177/154405910808700406
  6. DeVocht JW, Schaeffer W, Lawrence DJ. Chiropractic treatment of temporomandibular disorders using the activator adjusting instrument and protocol. Altern Ther Health Med [serial online]. 2005 [2016 Jul 29];11(6):70-3. Available from:

Disclaimer: This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should contact your own physician or other qualified health can provider with any questions you may have regarding your condition. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it based on information from this content. Relying on information provided by this content is done at your own risk. Although the authors have made every effort to provide the most up-to-date evidence-based health information, this content should not necessarily be considered the standard of care and may not reflect individual practices in other geographic locations.

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