Des Moines, Iowa TMJ Disorder Care

It Starts with Empathy & Understanding

If you live here in the Des Moines metro and are experiencing TMJ Disorder, I feel for you, because I know how it feels...

Des Moines TMJ Disorder Story

My wife and I were hiking up Bear Canyon to Seven Falls north of Tucson when we came to a creek crossing with no rocks to walk across. Since I was wearing Chaco sandals while she was wearing shoes, I volunteered to carry her.

Immediately after putting her down, I felt my left neck tighten up, and a migraine headache started. I got through the hike with the help of some ibuprofen, but when I went to eat dinner I found that my jaw was clicking and painful.

The TMJ pain and dysfunction lasted for weeks, during which I felt extreme levels of discomfort and frustration.

Resolving it required a combination of behavior modification (I've never chewed gum again), muscle work, and chiropractic care on both my jaw and neck.

At the time of the creek crossing, I had already done some study of treating TMJ Disorder with chiropractic and muscle work such as the highly effective Active Release Techniques. I had decent success at fixing Des Moines patients' TMJ Disorder.

However, this personal experience gave me an exponentially higher motivation to become an expert at resolving TMJ Disorder pain and dysfunction, and since that time I have sought out training with the foremost experts in successful care strategies.

I'd be thrilled to help free you from your TMJ Disorder Pain!

- Dr. David Krohse

Des Moines TMJ Disorder Story
Seven Falls

Most complicated joint in the body?

The jaw is in the running for that title, up against the knee and shoulder.

Each temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is both a hinge joint, and a sliding joint. The function of one side is affected by the other. There’s a disc to allow smooth, fluid movement. Controlling muscles extend up into the forehead, down into the neck and are deep within the mouth. Its movement is affected by orientation of the head and neck.

Open, close, jut forward, pull back, move side to side. A healthy jaw can do all of these without pain. But for some of us that stops. 

What causes TMJ Disorder?

Often the tipping point into symptoms makes sense, such as:

  • A longer dental procedure 
  • A car accident 
  • Chewing on something particularly tall or tough

Other times the pain seems to start for no reason one day while:

  • Carrying something
  • Chewing 
  • Just waking up 

Abnormal position and dysfunction of the jaw's disc is often the actual cause of the pain, popping, clicking, and locking in the jaw.

Why doesn’t TMJ Disorder get better?

There are a few variables that set a person up for a tipping point, and get in the way of quick healing and return to normal


  • History of trauma to the jaw and or neck
  • Poor posture, especially jobs that require looking down or to the side for extended periods
  • Stress and tension causing increased clenching and night-time grinding
  • Small facial structures making dental procedures or simply eating an item like a sub sandwich more stressful
  • Increased jutting of the jaw, such as when wearing masks during the pandemic

What should I do when TMJ Disorder doesn't get better quickly?

Research reported in the Journal of Oral Rehabilitation found that about 90% of TMJ sufferers had neck dysfunction, even when these patients didn't think of themselves as having any significant neck issues. Based on my experience, patients with TMJ Disorder often will say something similar to, "I carry my stress in my neck and upper back."

The Journal of Applied Oral Science reported that "cervical spine disorders are perpetuating factors for TMJ disorders. This means that neck dysfunction usually isn't the direct cause of the TMJ disorder, but it can contribute to pain and symptoms continuing and not healing.

For this reason, current recommendations from oral care journals recommend a complete assessment of the head and neck when TMJ disorders don't resolve rapidly.

Visiting an oral care provider for assessment of the mouth can be valuable.

They may recommend fitting you with an appliance such as a splint, nightguard, or Aqualizer. They may also prescribe a TMJ cream with anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxing properties.

What do you do for Des Moines TMJ Disorder Patients?

I view my first job as doing the rest of that recommendation "assess the entire head and neck"


  • Checking range of motion of the jaw can determine what's in improper position in the jaw
  • Checking neck ranges of motion can reveal muscle imbalances that contributed to the tipping point
  • Pressing on muscles in the jaw and neck region can reveal trigger points that contribute to abnormal function
  • Digital X-rays can reveal structural changes and past traumas that have affected the jaw, neck, and upper body

What Types of Care Do you Provide for Des Moines TMJ Disorder Patients?

"If your teeth are touching, you're clenching."

Our first strategy is empowering patients with knowledge and information on how to decrease stress on their jaw and avoid reinjuring and reaggravating the area. I'll share our recommended daily living modifications below.

Muscle work is generally recommended both around the jaw, and in the neck regions. This specialized care combines pressure into involved muscles with patient or doctor-generated motion to free up scar tissue and trigger points and restore normal movement and function

Gentle instrument-assisted chiropractic adjustments are performed in the jaw.  These can help restore alignment and function of the TMJ joint

If dysfunction is found in the joints of the neck, chiropractic care will be provided in that area. Our top priority is keeping our care within each patients comfort level, and we often provide gentle chiropractic care in the neck with no quick, twisting or popping sensations.

Finally, patients are empowered with the right home-care stretches and exercises for both the jaw and neck regions to speed healing and provided lasting results.

How Do I get STarted?

You're invited to self-schedule, or call or text us for an appointment. We currently have a valuable offer to get started with a thorough workup

Daily Living Modifications for Des Moines TMJ Disorder Sufferers

Remember:“If your teeth are touching, you’re clenching” - be intentional about only having teeth touch when eating or talking while healing

Dietary Modifications/Concerns:

  • No gum, hard candy, nuts, tall sandwiches, chewing ice. Apples must be sliced.
  • Choose softer foods for the initial phase of care, take small bites
  • Decrease Stimulants – soda, coffee, tea, energy drinks, dietary supplements that have a thermogenic effect
  • No red meat or wild game foods – instead eat fish or chicken
  • At times a liquid diet is needed to allow the joint to rest and recover from the changes being made

Posture— specifically Forward Head Posture

  • Focus on being as tall as possible at all these times.
  • If your job or hobby requires extended bending your head forward, set a reminder on your phone or computer to take breaks every 15-30 minutes.

Sleeping Positions

  • Back preferred, with neck having a bit more support than the back of the head (we love the customizable millet pillows we have available)
  • Side-sleeping causes pressure on the TMJ, and head-turned positions stress surrounding soft tissues

Medication Side Effects

Grinding of the teeth can occur as a side effect of taking certain medications. These include some psychotropic drugs such as antidepressants and antipsychotics. Consult the prescribing physician before making any medication changes.

Potentially Problematic Medications (Obisesan, 2005)

  • Effexor (venlafaxine)
  • Haldol (haloperidol)
  • Luvox (fluvoxamine)
  • Paxil (paroxetine)
  • Prozac (fluoxetine)
  • Zoloft (sertraline)

Our Hours

Mon - 8:00 to 6:00
Tue - 4:00 to 6:00
Wed - 8:00 to 6:00
Thu - 8:00 to 6:00
Fri - 9:30 to 12:30
Sat - 10:30 to  12:30

Your Priority is our priority!