Disorders of the Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) send patients to dentists and specialists seeking relief from jaw pain and headaches daily. It is estimated that 30% of the adult population suffers from symptoms involving the TMJ. This disorder is called Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJD).
Disorders of the TMJ are prevalent, most commonly observed in individuals between the ages of 20 and 40, although children as young as 14 are showing up with complaints. It is only in recent years that we have started to pay attention to the cause of TMJD, and now we have many treatment options for helping our patients.
Dental professionals and TMJ specialists understand the complex nature of this joint and know the importance of keeping this joint healthy. Myofunctional therapy helps treat jaw pain by focusing on the position of the tongue. Tongue position is crucial because it helps to stabilize the jaw. When the tongue has a low resting posture, the condyle shifts forward and leaves the jaw unstabilized. Headaches and jaw pain are very common symptoms.
As you can imagine, with the mouth constantly open or in the wrong position, the muscles will be stretched and tense all the time. This resting position of the face has muscles enduring constant tension leading to an unstable position of the jaw and causing tension headaches. Myofunctional therapy helps to correct this orofacial myofunctional disorder by working to re-pattern the resting position of the tongue (to the roof of the mouth) resulting in a closed mouth resting posture.
Once a correct closed mouth posture is achieved, the muscles are relieved of constant tension and the headaches become alleviated. It’s an even better bonus that nasal breathing and proper swallowing are also achieved with a closed mouth resting posture.
Getting Out Of Pain
Myofunctional therapy exercises are a great option to help with jaw pain because they are non-invasive, require no dental appliances and can cause absolutely no harm. In fact, myofunctional therapy exercises have been shown to significantly decrease jaw pain and headaches if the underlying issue is tongue and muscle related. Myofunctional therapy may enhance a person’s quality of life, especially if they are in pain from their jaw joint constantly working in dysfunction.