TMJ symptoms can be very uncomfortable.   TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint, and is the joint that moves the lower jaw or mandible. It is held in a sling formed by the muscles of mastication (jaw muscles).

This joint can be the source of many problems around the jaw itself, but can also extend to cause problems throughout a person's body.

Symptoms aren't exclusive to this list and may include a variety of other ailments, but these are some of the more common symptoms. We will explain later how TMJ symptoms can be a big factor in many people who have chronic pain in many other areas of the body.

  • headaches
  • jaw pain, clicking, popping, locking in the jaw, difficulty opening
  • ear aches, ringing in the ears, dizziness
  • neck pain, difficulty turning head, decreased range of motion (ROM)
  • back pain, decreased ROM
  • shoulder pain
  • postural problems
  • Bell's Palsy, paralysis of facial muscles


Neuromuscular dentistry involves aligning a person's jaws in the most natural, and comfortable position for the muscles (called physiologic rest position).

Neuromuscular dentists use TENS unit, which stands for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, to relax the muscles of mastication (jaw muscles), neck, and shoulder muscles, which allows them to find a person's physiologic rest position. The TENS unit has pads that are placed on the person, which stimulates, and subsequently relaxes the muscles for about an hour to achieve full relaxation prior to any dental treatment being done.

Neuromuscular dentists then use EMG, or electromyography, to test the activity of the muscles at various times to ensure that the correct physiologic rest position is determined.


Most people think that their teeth are naturally in the best position possible since they can eat, or because they have had orthodontics . Unfortunately, the human body is very adaptive and your jaw muscles will hold your jaw in the most convenient place for you to eat and speak, even tho it may not be the most comfortable position for them.

The drawback is that after holding the jaw in an uncomfortable position over long lengths of time, they begin to tire, which causes jaw pain.

Because the body is very adaptive, if the jaws are misaligned, the jaw muscles will compensate, but subsequently the neck, shoulder, back muscles, etc, will all have to compensate to keep the body aligned.


Here is a quick way to see if your tmj symptoms may be solved by seeing a neuromuscular dentist. You can try looking in the mirror, but it is easier if someone else looks since they can look at the correct height and be more objective.

  • Stand in profile and ask someone to see if your ears are aligned over your shoulders (or are they forward of your shoulders)?
  • Stand up straight, and ask someone if your eyes are perfectly parallel to the ground?
  • Are both of your shoulders the same height?
  • If you place your hands on the top edges of your hip bones, are they the same height?

If you answered no to any of those questions, your life could most likely be improved by seeing a neuromuscular dentist. You may think you don't have any pain, but your body may just be used to it so you don't notice it. Properly aligning your jaw and body and improve your quality of life dramatically.


These terms are all forms of parafunction, or when your teeth are functioning in ways not vital to survival, such as breathing, eating, or speaking.

As discussed above, physiologic rest position is when the jaws are at the most comfortable neuromuscular position.

When people grind their teeth, or brux, that means that their jaws are misaligned and the jaw muscles are trying to get back to their most comfortable position, or the physiologic rest position. If the teeth are set in that position, the teeth grinding stops.

Read more about dental nightguards here.


If you do see a neuromuscular dentist, they will most likely make you an orthotic or splint, which is similar to what most people know as a nightguard. It is normally made of a hard, clear, acrylic and can be worn 24/7. If it is made for the lower teeth, it is hardly noticible and can be worn during eating and is normally removed just to clean.

If done properly, the orthotic itself should relieve the majority of the pain in the short term. Many patients who were previously taking pain medication daily, can stop taking the medication completely.

In the long run, because the orthotic is reprogramming your bite to its ideal position, you most likely will want your teeth restored to maintain that position, rather than wearing the orthotic indefinitely.

TMJ Symptoms

Neuromuscular Dentistry

How Jaw Pain Causes other Pain

How Neuromuscular Dentistry Can Help

Teeth Grinding, BruxingTreatments for TMJ Issues

More on TMJ vs TMD

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