Many signs and symptoms of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) problems or jaw problems may not be felt right away. We saw this when I explained how poor posture can be caused by TMJ disorder (TMD) with a Poor Posture Test.
Some patients that I’ve seen at my downtown Calgary dental clinic were unaware of the destruction that was happening for years to their jaw joints, their teeth, and their spine. However, their limited mobility said a lot of about what was going to to their body and their overall well-being.
Jaw Problems and Limited Mobility
One of the common signs of TMJ damage are limited ability to open your mouth. If it opens unevenly or if you open your mouth and the lower jaw swings to the left or right, then you may have a TMJ problem.
Your TMJ joints may be locked and are not moving as they should. This can become a more serious problem with permanent locking of one or both TMJ joints.
Try these mobility tests to see if your jaw joints are under stress and strain.
Test your TMJ Joint Dislocation
1. Watching in the mirror, try to touch your right ear to your right shoulder.
2. Repeat in the other direction.
3. Now try to turn your head so your chin is pointing to the right and then the left. The same applies with looking up to the ceiling or down to your toes.
4. If you have stiffness or pain, strained jaw and neck muscles caused by a bad bite (malocclusion) may be to blame.
Limited facial mobility is often a sign of muscle tension that occurs with an unbalanced bite. Stiffness in the head and neck muscles mean that you may have a chronic condition that is very much bite related.
Test by Opening the Mouth
1. You should be able to open more than 40 to 50 mm if you measure from the tips of the upper teeth to the tips of the lower teeth.
2. Another way to measure this is with your fingers. If you can fit 3 or more fingers between your teeth, then this is normal.
If, however you can only fit 2 fingers, your jaws mobility has been affected. This can be related to muscles or to the workings of the actual jaw joint.
What happens with lowered mobility?
- When you can’t open your mouth properly, it may impact the food you can eat. There may be foods you really like that you are no longer able to have.
- If your mobility has been affected by an inability to turn your head one way or the other, it can mean you have to curtail certain activities, some of which may be sports or hobbies you enjoy.
- Your appearance and demeanour may be affected. You may look older than you are because you move in a stiff, immobile manner.
Find Relief for Poor Mobility and Jaw Problems
As you can see, when you have TMJ Disorder, your misaligned bite causes a ripple effect throughout your facial region, resulting in pain and strain throughout the top half of your body down to your hips.
Limited facial mobility is just one of the symptoms.
Correct your bite so your muscles can function properly without compensating the strain. A non-aggravated TMJ can be the difference between living with muscle discomfort or with relaxed, properly functioning muscles.
If poor mobility is a concern for you, contact our office to have an examination. TMJ Disorder or TMD treatment may be appropriate and may relieve or eliminate your pain and discomfort. A re-aligned bite can restore your face’s mobility.
Talk to me about jaw joint pain relief and if you have any questions, feel free to send them to us.
Curtis Westersund, D.D.S.
Dentist Calgary, TMJ Calgary