On the Ask a Dentist segment for KJRH TV Channel 2, Dr. Kevin Winters answers many serious questions people have about their oral health. Recently, he was asked about why TMJ treatment with a chiropractor only resulted in short-term relief.

Dr. Winters explained that with TMJ, the root cause is often your bite–how your teeth fit together. If this root cause isn’t treated, chiropractic treatment will provide only short-term relief. Chiropractors can be part of your TMJ treatment team, but they’re rarely able to provide relief by themselves.

How Chiropractors Treat TMJ

Chiropractic care works using physical manipulation of the tissues. This includes adjusting the relationship between bones and massaging muscles. Chiropractic treatment began by working with problems of the neck and spine. This remains its primary area of effectiveness, but some chiropractic methods can be effective at treating TMJ.

Chiropractic care can help if jaw pain is primarily related to muscle tension. If you carry stress in your jaw muscles, causing you to clench your jaw tight, then a chiropractor can help by massaging the jaw muscles to relax them. This can reduce jaw pain and may help reduce tooth damage.

A chiropractor can also help if your jaw has been temporarily dislocated as a result of jaw trauma or a whiplash-inducing accident. The chiropractor can help maneuver the jaw back into position so that it functions more smoothly.

A chiropractor can also help treat some of the far-ranging symptoms of TMJ. If spinal misalignment is leading to pinched nerves that cause tingling and numbness in the fingers, a chiropractor can help align the spine and reduce or eliminate pressure on the nerves.

When Chiropractic Care Is not Enough

There are many potential causes of TMJ. One of these is malocclusion–a misalignment among your teeth. If your teeth aren’t properly aligned, it can put pressure on or even dislocate the jaw joint.

Your jaw muscles also have to deal with this misalignment. When properly balanced, your jaw puts all your muscles at rest. But if improperly balanced because of malocclusion, your jaw muscles can’t rest, and they develop constant tension.

Because your jaw muscles also help support the head and neck, an imbalance in the jaw can lead to an imbalanced pull on the neck vertebrae. This will pull them out of alignment.

In short, if your teeth are poorly aligned, all the chiropractor’s work will be undone shortly.

But a TMJ dentist can fix this problem. Once Dr. Winters has identified the imbalance in your bite, he can design a bite splint that will hold your jaw in a balanced, relaxed position. This means that if your chiropractor performs an alignment, that alignment will stay in place longer, and you’ll see long-lasting, possibly permanent, relief from TMJ symptoms.

See a TMJ Dentist if Chiropractic Results Don’t Last

It’s important to note that a TMJ dentist can help even if you don’t think you have TMJ. Because of the many symptoms of TMJ and how they overlap with other conditions, many people with TMJ don’t realize that they have it. But if your chiropractic care is giving only short-term results, maybe you should talk to a TMJ dentist about the condition.

If you are looking for a TMJ dentist in Tulsa, please call (918) 528-3330 today for an appointment at Winters Dental Excellence.