What is TMD?

TMD, Temporal Mandibular Dysfunction, is commonly (incorrectly) referred to as “TMJ”; however the TMJ (temporal mandibular joint) is merely the joint itself. When pain, muscle imbalance and overall dysfunction are present, it is correctly referred to as TMD.

TMD can cause not only jaw pain but may be the driving force behind:

  • Neck pain
  • Ear pain
  • Tooth wear
  • Headaches

What can cause TMD?

  • Teeth grinding or teeth clenching (bruxism)
  • Poor Posture
  • Trauma
  • Habitual gum chewing or fingernail biting
  • Stress
  • Muscle trigger points


At LCSM we evaluate not only the TMJ itself, but also the surrounding tissues. TMD typically is not due to a problem with the TMJ, but often from various factors involving the facial muscles and cervical spine (neck). Our step-by-step evaluation allows us to pinpoint the cause of your discomfort, as well as the best method of treatment.

To determine what factors are affecting your jaw pain, we perform several manual exams and observe how your jaw functions in simple tasks. This allows us to determine what procedures we will use to help you improve your TMJ function and minimize your pain. Treatment

  • Muscle soft tissue techniques: Overactive musculature is extremely common in most TMD complaints. Treatment includes muscle release techniques to help normalize the muscles. These treatments help to reduce muscle/ligament pain, tightness, and adhesions, as well as improve muscle/ligament function. (dry needling, A.R.T., class IV laser, IASTM)
  • Mobilizations: Due to the unique make-up of the TMJ, adjustments are almost never used. Instead, light mobilizations are utilized to correct biomechanical joint restrictions that may be present with jaw pain.
  • Therapeutic Exercises: Specific rehabilitation exercises and assisted stretches are recommended to regain stability, strengthen weak/inhibited muscles, improve flexibility and range of motion. (DNS and exercise rehabilitation)
  • Lifestyle Modification: If there are things you are doing at work or with your recreational activities that are contributing to your jaw pain, then those issues need to be addressed. We can help you figure out what some common jaw pain contributors are. (Hint: Switch from chewing gum to mints)

What can I do to prevent jaw pain?

-It is very important that you do not ignore your jaw pain. Pain means something is wrong and it needs to be addressed to prevent a chronic condition from developing.

-Are you a “clencher”? (Hint: every time you chew gum, you are essentially clenching your jaw repeatedly!) Maybe you clench and don’t realize it! The first step is discovering if you clench or not.

-Find several small stickers and place them in areas you commonly look. (i.e. rear view mirror, cell phone, etc.) Every time you see a sticker, immediately ask yourself, “Am I clenching; do I have excessive tension in my jaw?” If you are consistently clenching, you likely have an issue. You need to utilize the “rest position” of the jaw!

Rest Position

-The ideal position of the jaw, which minimizes tension of the surrounding muscles and support structures. Rest position consists of the following: lips together, teeth slightly apart, tongue on the roof of the mouth as if saying the word “no”, and relaxed.

-Now every time you see one of the stickers think “rest position”, avoid clenching and begin a new habit.