Myofunctional Therapy & Jaw Pain

Jaw PainJaw Pain, also known as temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD), can be related to many different factors including, but not limited to: mouth breathing, clenching, grinding, dental crowding, chewing on one side of the mouth, nail biting, or even postural habits like resting your hand on your chin. TMD can also contribute to headaches and neck/should tension and pain. The tongue contributes to stabilizing the jaw. If it isn’t function the way it’s meant to or is not in the correct spot, the jaw joint will struggle to be stable.

Patients often find that myofunctional therapy exercises are a great non-invasive option to help with jaw pain. They find relief from jaw pain and headaches if the underlying issues are tongue and muscle related. There are many different ways to alleviate symptoms and every person is different in terms of the jaw pain they encounter. Often, myofunctional therapists work along with other specialist like the orthodontist, dentist, or physical therapist to help rebalance and retrain the muscles of the face, mouth, and neck to help restore to proper function.

How Does Myofunctional Therapy Help with Facial Trauma, Paralysis, or Special Needs?

People who have suffered from a facial trauma, paralysis, and those with special needs such as Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, or chronic pain should be seen by a team of specialists. An advanced myofunctional therapist can be part of that team.  The myofunctional therapist may improve swallowing, breathing, speech and chewing.  They help you balance the muscles of the face which may help relieve pain, decrease swelling, improve chewing, speech and appearance of scars.

Do you clench or grind your teeth?2019-11-13T01:44:49+00:00

Clenching or grinding your teeth is a sign that there is an airway issue. When you stop breathing in your sleep, your brain sends a signal to your mouth to clench or grind so that your mouth will open. Often, it is a sign of a tongue-tie and that your tongue is sitting low in your mouth and falling back into your airway therefore cutting off the oxygen.

What specialists should I see for jaw pain?2019-11-12T23:24:12+00:00

Due to the complexity of Temporomandibular disorders, managing and treating TMJ pain and other TMD symptoms often requires a skilled multi-disciplinary team. A good myofunctional therapist can also help to find the best doctors and specialists to work with for temporomandibular disorders. My job as a myofunctional therapist is also to guide my patients to the specific healthcare professionals they need on their treatment team.

Like most myofunctional therapists, I’ve built up a substantial referral network over the years. This allows me to recommend the right doctor, dentist, orthodontist, or bodyworker for my patients with TMJ-related issues depending on their unique requirements.


What are the symptoms of temporomandibular disorders (TMD)?2019-11-21T02:29:33+00:00

The symptoms of temporomandibular disorders can include:

  • Jaw and facial pain, tension, and stiffness
  • Pain and tension that radiates into the neck, shoulders, and upper body
  • Earache
  • Hearing difficulties
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
  • Headaches
  • Toothaches
  • Clicking or grating sounds when opening the mouth, yawning or chewing
  • Clenching and grinding of teeth
  • Difficulty opening the mouth wide or yawning
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Locking open of the jaw
  • Dizziness
What are temporomandibular disorders (TMD)?2019-11-12T23:17:04+00:00

TMJ pain is one of the most common reasons patients reach out to me for help. It will often start as their immediate concern, but soon learn that their pain is always the result of an underlying temporomandibular disorder.

Temporomandibular disorders or TMD used to refer to any pain, discomfort, dysfunction, or tension related to the jaw. Often, it is also called TMJ syndrome.

It can be a challenge to determine was is the cause of these temporomandibular disorders, because there are many factors that can contribute. These factors include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Genetics
  • Epigenetic changes
  • Trauma
  • Age-related degeneration
  • Autoimmune conditions such as arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Nutritional and dietary issues
  • Chronic stress
  • Postural and structural issues
  • Tongue-tie
  • Teeth clenching and grinding
  • Improper chewing or swallowing patterns
  • Incorrect tongue resting posture and mouth breathing
  • Malocclusion
  • Persistently sleeping on one side

Anything that affects the functionality or structure of the temporomandibular joint can lead to TMJ dysfunction, pain, tension, and a wide range of other symptoms.

How can myofunctional therapy help jaw pain?2019-11-21T02:29:56+00:00

If TMJ pain is caused by oral myofunctional disorders, then the best way to address the pain is to target those disorders and create a treatment plan based on exercises that will strengthen and retrain the oral and facial muscles. Myofunctional therapy was created to treat oral myofunctional dysfunctions. 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).

Addressing the dysfunctions can go a long way in resolving TMJ pain. Not only can my patients attest that their pain has been significantly reduced, but a recent study from Brazil  shows that 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 a reduction in related signs and symptoms.


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