It is estimated that 30% of the adult population suffers from symptoms involving the TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint). Many of my patients try to find relief from symptoms that include intense jaw joint pain and headaches.
The tongue plays a crucial role in stabilizing the jaw. If the tongue isn’t functioning properly or is in the wrong position, the jaw joint simply won’t be stable.
Dentists and doctors know that the TMJ is a complex and multifaceted part of the body. There are many different ways to alleviate symptoms, and every person is unique in terms of why they experience jaw problems.
Myofunctional therapy exercises are a great option to help with jaw pain because they are non-invasive, require no dental appliances, and can cause no harm. These exercises have been shown to significantly decrease jaw pain and headaches if the underlying issue is tongue and muscle-related.
TMJ pain is one of the most common reasons patients begin working with me. The TMJ (temporomandibular joint) or jaw joint is one of the more complex joints in the human body. It’s incredibly durable and designed to last a lifetime, but sadly, TMJ disorders seem to be increasing in our modern times.
The symptoms of temporomandibular disorders can include:
It’s possible to get temporary relief from TMJ pain and tension using simple remedies such as gentle massage, heat and ice, and over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs). But unless the root cause is addressed, the pain may become chronic and may worsen over time.
Depending on the origin of the pain, I believe that myofunctional therapy should be an integral part of many TMD treatment plans. If TMJ pain and other symptoms of TMD are caused by oral myofunctional disorders, then the best way to address the pain is to target those disorders.
Myofunctional therapy was created to treat oral myofunctional dysfunctions. It strengthens and retrains the oral and facial muscles. It can also correct dysfunctional swallowing and chewing patterns, restore nasal breathing, and get the tongue to rest in the correct place (on the top of the mouth, filling the palate from front to back).
This can go a long way to help resolve TMJ pain. As this study from Brazil shows, myofunctional therapy can make a major difference to TMD, helping to restore the temporomandibular joint to correct functionality and reduce pain. The study indicated improvements in pain levels, increased mandibular range of motion and reduced related signs and symptoms.
Because the contributing factors can be so complex, managing and treating TMJ pain and other TMD symptoms often requires a skilled multi-disciplinary team. A good myofunctional therapist can also help find the best doctors and specialists to work with for temporomandibular disorders.
TMJ pain and other temporomandibular disorders need to be seen in a holistic light, just like many health problems. When the root causes are investigated and addressed using a multi-disciplinary approach, then real and substantial improvements over the long term can be achieved.