Jaw Pain

Jaw pain can be very complex and can be correlated to breathing dysfunctions, poor jaw growth & development, improper tongue posture and swallowing. When the tongue is not functioning properly, the jaw joints will not be stable. Unstable jaw joints are a critical cause of headaches, migraine, neck tension, upper back tension, facial pain, limited opening of the mouth, poor breathing, poor sleep, poor posture and more. 


The symptoms of temporomandibular disorders (TMD) 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

The Systemic Connection

Myofunctional Therapy exercises are designed to help support jaw surgeries, TMJ appliances and orthodontics. Individualized therapy exercises have proven to be successful adjunctive therapy. Without correcting dysfunctional muscles of the face and tongue, complete rehabilitation of the TMJ cannot be resolved. 

Understanding the Jaw

I continue to learn more and more about the TMJ. To me, the TMJ is quite fascinating and probably the most important joint in our bodies. It is important to note that there are many treatment modalities to treat TMJ pain/dysfunction. Regardless of treatment, it is important that the jaw functions optimally and this happens when the tongue, facial muscles and our teeth are balanced and working in harmony. When one of these is not working, our complex, multidimensional jaw joint can start to deteriorate and become unstable. The jaw should be able to move freely without pain, clicking, popping or locking.

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What's Causing Pain?

Remember the jaw can be negatively influenced by several factors and can be difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of pain or discomfort. Working with a team that addresses all areas of the TMJ will be crucial to successful treatment. TMJ treatment needs to be multi-disciplinary to find the cause and full treatment of the patient’s pain. 

 

  • 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

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