The temporomandibular joint articulates between the temporal bone of the cranium and the mandible (jaw bone). It opens and closes like a hinge (joint rotation, see top image) and a drawer (joint glide. see bottom image). Most muscles inside the mouth will close the jaw while the muscles below the jaw line will open it. The sub-mandibular muscles (below the jaw line) are also very active during posture, swallowing and breathing.
One of the causes of temporomandibular dysfunction (TMD) occurs when muscle imbalance settles due to forward head posture, cervical or thoracic spine dysfunctions or simply when breathing from the chest. Because of the continuous tension in the sub-mandibular muscles below the jaw bone, there will be a compensating action of the muscles inside the mouth trying to balance the system. This intra-oral muscle activity is responsible for clenching and can initiate TMJ or dental pain. Another consequence of intra-oral muscle tension is a gradual forward pulling of the intra-articular disc. Ultimately, this action can lead to an anterior disc displacement responsible for clicking and locking of the jaw. In extreme cases, arthroscopic surgery is needed to reposition the disc to enable full jaw range of motion.
We can teach you how to normalize muscle activity in the jaw by giving you simple home exercises. You will be able to normalize muscle tension and control or abolish TMJ dysfunction.