Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Therapy

Specialized treatment to improve jaw movement

If you experience discomfort, clicking, altered chewing or changes in your ability to open and close your mouth, you may have a temporomandibular disorder (TMD). These disorders typically affect the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), the connection point of the temporal fossa (a section of skull) and jawbone. TMD pain can affect the head, neck, teeth, jawline, temples and eyes.

If you have a history of any of the below, you may be at higher risk for TMD:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Smoking
  • Head or neck cancers treated with radiation
  • Habitual teeth grinding or jaw clenching
  • Trauma to jaw, head or neck

The good news is that physical therapy can help. At your first visit, your Dignity Health physical therapist will discuss your dental history, habits (gum chewing, cheek biting, jaw clenching), sleep patterns, general well-being and any difficulties you may have with chewing, speaking or breathing. During this first visit, an evaluation will be performed to:

  • Assess the range and quality of movement of your mouth and jaw, as well as the alignment of your teeth
  • Assess posture and the strength and mobility of your neck, spine and shoulders
  • Listen for unusual joint noises
  • Check the muscles of mastication (chewing)

Based your evaluation’s results, your physical therapist will develop a treatment plan to meet your specific needs. This may include:

  • Ergonomic retraining
  • Muscle retraining during mouth opening, closing, chewing and speech
  • Joint mobilization of your neck and TMJ
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Retraining of swallowing and breathing functions
  • Soft tissue mobilization of the muscles surrounding your neck and head

You may also be given weekly at-home exercises that emphasize:

  • Correcting posture
  • Improving range of motion
  • Restoring muscle balance

Learn How Specialty Services at Dignity Health Physical Therapy Can Help You