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Can TMJ Affect Your Golf Swing? Expert Advice from Dr. Kelley Mingus

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders can affect your golf swing and cause pain and discomfort when playing golf. Dr. Kelley Mingus, a dentist with over 20 years of experience in treating TMJ disorders and other dental problems, offers his expert advice on how golf enthusiasts can minimize their symptoms and optimize their game.

What is TMJ?

Temporal Mandibular Joint (TMJ) Dysfunction is a pain disorder that affects the jaw, and surrounding muscles. This condition is related to wear and tear in the jaw joint, leading to pain and discomfort when the jaw is moved. Other symptoms that can be associated with TMJ include headaches, dizziness, ear pain, difficulty opening the mouth, trouble chewing, or clicking, popping or grating noises in the jaw.

This condition can be caused by factors such as misalignment of the jaw, damage to the joint or surrounding disks, bruxism (teeth grinding), arthritis of the joint, stress, or excessive chewing or clenching of the jaw.

How Does TMJ Affect Your Golf Swing?

When the jaw joint is not functioning properly, it can affect the whole body, and this dysfunction can have a negative impact on your golf swing. For example, if the jaw is not properly aligned, it can cause the shoulders to be out of alignment as well. This can alter the swing plane and also impact your grip, affecting your performance and potentially causing pain.

Furthermore, symptoms such as headaches and muscle tension in the jaw and neck can also make it hard to focus on your golf game. This pain and discomfort can make it difficult to maintain the balance and control needed to execute the correct swing.

Treatment for TMJ and Golf Swing Optimization

Dr. Kelley Mingus recommends that golf enthusiasts who are experiencing TMJ-related symptoms take steps to manage their discomfort and improve their jaw function. Treatment options depend on the severity of symptoms, and may include some or all of the following:

Mouth Guards: Customized mouth guards can help to reduce muscle tension and pain in the jaw. Wearing a mouth guard while playing golf can help to minimize the impact of TMJ symptoms on a person’s golf game.

Medication and Non-invasive Therapies: Over-the-counter medications, as well as massages, heat or cold therapy, and relaxation exercises can help to alleviate the pain and discomfort of TMJ symptoms.

Stress Management: Techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, and other stress management techniques can be helpful for reducing the effects of stress on the jaw joint and overall physical health.

Alignment Treatment: Chiropractic adjustments and other alignment techniques can help to improve the alignment of the jaw joint and reduce the potential for discomfort and dysfunction.

Dental Work: In some cases, dental work such as restorative care or orthodontic treatment may be necessary to address issues associated with TMJ.

Dr. Kelley Mingus’s Top Tips for Golfers with TMJ

Treating TMJ and optimizing your golf swing can be a long and ongoing process. However, there are steps that golf enthusiasts with TMJ can take to minimize their symptoms and improve their game.

Before starting a round of golf, it is recommended to take a few minutes to engage in relaxation exercises to reduce muscle tension in the jaw and neck. In addition, using warm or cool packs can help to relieve pain and relax the affected muscles.

It is also important to take steps to minimize stress in your life, as stress can exacerbate TMJ symptoms. Warming up before playing golf can also help to improve circulation and increase flexibility, which can help to minimize the potential for muscle tension and discomfort.

Golfers with TMJ should also use a customized mouth guard to help to minimize muscle tension and maintain proper alignment in the jaw. A physical therapist can also provide exercises that can help to stabilize the neck and jaw musculature, as well as maximize strength and flexibility.


Dr. Kelley Mingus suggests that golf enthusiasts experiencing TMJ symptoms should take steps to manage their discomfort and improve their play. A variety of treatment options are available to help reduce the impact of TMJ symptoms on the golf game, and specific tips can be followed to optimize the golf swing and reduce the potential for discomfort. With a combination of awareness of symptoms, ongoing patient commitment to treatment, and expert guidance from a healthcare professional, it is possible for golfers to enjoy their game with minimal disruption from TMJ symptoms.