Jaw pain is a common symptom with temporomandibular disorder (TMD). TMD is pain, discomfort, or dysfunction of the jaw, and common causes can include mouth breathing, grinding and clenching of the teeth, malocclusion or a dysfunctional swallow pattern.
- Mouth breathing causes the lower jaw to chronically assume an incorrect position in the joint, leading to pain in the temporomandibular joint and facial muscles. Additionally, a low resting tongue does not provide the necessary support to the jaw and can throw the whole orofacial system out of balance.
- Improper occlusion can cause the jaw to move asymmetrically in the joint, leading to tension of the TMJ muscles.
- Clenching and grinding has been shown to contribute to TMD's. Recent studies have revealed that clenching and grinding may occur in response to airway resistance and is the body's way of waking us up to help correct this imbalance.
- A tongue thrust swallow pattern causes the jaw to shift forward with the tongue during the swallow and compresses the TMJ disc, which can lead to excessive wear or displacement of the disc over time.
- Approximately 80% of jaw pain is muscular in nature, rooted in the muscles of mastication that assist in opening, closing and moving the lower jaw. In most cases, the jaw pain associated with TMD can be temporary and can be managed with nonsurgical treatments such as orthodontics and myofunctional therapy. Others factors that may result in jaw pain include:
Pain in the temporomandibular joint and face can sometimes be a complex issue, and a team approach to care is often needed. I work with your doctor, dentist, orthodontist and other professionals to help get to the root of the problem and provide the best treatment possible for your individual needs. As a myofunctional therapist trained in FNFT (Fast N Functional Therapy) I employ techniques to help reduce the tension in these muscles and recommend exercises to retrain the facial muscles and tongue to work properly in order to support the jaw. With FNFT, "Motion is lotion," and exercises play an important role in helping to restore proper, symmetrical and pain-free jaw movement.