Myofunctional therapy and TMJ
TMJ discomfort has become one of the modern society persistent afflictions being #1 complaint of the majority of my adults patients that I see for myofunctional therapy.
Temporo-mandibular joint/ generally known as TMJ is the space located in the ear proximity, where the lower jaw can slide, glide and rotate to permit a wide range of motions allowing us to open and close the mouth, to bite and chew, speak and yawn.
As any other joint in the body, the temporo-mandibular joint can present with discomfort, pain, or dysfunction also known as temporo- mandibular disorders/TMDs.
The triggering cause of these symptoms is hard to identify as they can have multiple causative factors that most of the times overlap.
It is safe to say that when the structure or proper function of the jaw joint itself is impacted the whole temporo-mandibular complex reacts by displaying discomfort and improper functioning.
Most indentified factors are:
• Trauma to the jaw, joint or the muscles of the face and neck
• Grinding and clenching –that put a lot of stress on the joint
• Tongue - tie
• Teeth crowding/ malocclusion
• Sleep position- lying on the tummy or predominantly one side
• Arthritis or degenerative conditions
• Nutritional deficiencies
• Jaw pain, tension or stiffness
• Neck and shoulder pain
• Ringing ears/ tinnitus or hearing difficulties
• Teeth grinding and clenching
• Clicking or popping sounds of the jaw when yawning, chewing or even speaking
• Limited mouth opening or stiffness or locked open jaw
• Vertigo/ dizziness
Myofunctional therapy can address a multitude of the causative factors, research confirming that myofunctional therapy improves the range of motion and reduces the discomfort associated with the symptoms.
The correct tongue rest positioning and function is paramount for jaw stabilization.
Myofunctional therapy proved to be extremely valuable in addressing TMDs symptoms by improving strength and coordination of the orofacial muscles, correcting dysfunctional chewing and swallowing, training nasal breathing and teaching correct tongue rest posture in the roof of the mouth