What’s the first thing I do?
There is a significant association between neck pain and Temporo-mandibular Dysfunction (TMD) symptoms (Ciancaglini ’99). In fact, 50% of cervical spine cases will have TMD, often as the primary problem (Lewitt).
Since many patients present with both neck and jaw pain, I look closely at both areas. However, I check your posture, the skull bones, pelvis, and feet too. It is a very comprehensive examination…I like looking at details! Many muscles of the neck and jaw can be imbalanced , especially the Digastrics, SCM, upper traps and suboccipitals. I teach my patients how to self stretch and balance these muscles.
Depending on the case I might recommend laser therapy, magnet therapy, deep muscle stimulation therapy and ‘hands on’ therapy.
Take home advice includes eat a soft diet; keep your tongue up, gently resting on the palate and teeth apart as the rest position of the jaw; chew on both sides at the same time or alternate sides; avoid clenching and grinding the teeth, tensing, or gum chewing; avoid excessive or prolonged opening of the mouth; avoid sleeping on the stomach; do a trial of laser therapy for pain control; use heat or ice over tender muscles (discuss with Dr. Tucker which is best for your case); I may recommend a topical cream (Hemp based or other cream).
If you need help with your dentist I am happy to work with them.