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  • Writer's pictureCamille Forbes

Can Myofunctional Therapy Help Me Find Relief?

Updated: Dec 6, 2022

TMJ pain is one of the most common reasons people contact me, and also one of the hardest complaints to find an answer to the joint (temporomandibular joint) is the most complex one in the body, and the source of TMJ pain can be like finding a needle in a haystack for some folks. Temporomandibular disorder (TMD) is a term used to explain any discomfort, pain, or dysfunction related to the jaw. Many people get confused with TMJ and TMD. Often, people will contact me and complain that he or she has “TMJ”. In fact, we all do. It is simply the joint that we all have. But TMD is different. And what may be causing these problems can be hard to find and it can be a combination of things such as: 

● Trauma 

● Aging 

Autoimmune diseases

● Malocclusion 

● Incorrect tongue posture 

● Posture related issues 

Tongue-tie 

● Clenching and grinding 

● Stress 

● Genetics 

● Retractive headgear 


Naturally, when a person has pain, he or she wants a solution. Myofunctional therapy can be a solution in some cases. I am careful to explain that in the case of TMJ pain and TMD, myofunctional therapy should not be viewed as the one-stop panacea. Success with myofunctional therapy depends upon the source of the pain and the dysfunction present. 


One of the most common causes of TMJ pain that I see daily as a myofunctional therapist is a tongue-tie. Frustratingly, many of my clients have been in TMD therapy for years with no success. Many of these clients have severe restrictions. This is why a multidisciplinary approach to TMJ pain is important. Something as simple as employing a “lift and look” campaign can keep these obvious myofunctional impairments from slipping through the cracks. 


Myofunctional therapy helps treat TMJ pain by focusing on the position of the tongue. Tongue position is crucial because it helps stabilize the jaw. When the tongue has a low resting posture, the condyle shifts forward and leaves the jaw unstabilized. Incorrect mouth posture also plays a role in TMJ pain and headaches. 


The symptoms of temporomandibular disorders (TMD) can include: 

Facial pain 

Jaw pain

Trouble opening wide 

Difficulty chewing 

Clicking, or popping when engaging the TMJ 

Headaches 

Chronic upper body tension 

The ringing of the ears 

Ear pain 

Tooth pain 

Dizziness 

Locked jaw 

TMJ Pain Can Alter Quality of Life 


Sadly, I am a member of many forums where I see the effects that TMJ pain can have on one’s comfort and quality of life. I have read many posts and articles where someone has spent their life savings trying to find the source of TMJ pain and get it corrected. This is why it is so important to be working with an exceptional specialist, not just someone who “dabbles” in TMJ problems. It is a very intricate joint, and it requires extra special attention. (This site healthline.com/health/tmj-exercise is a non-profit organization whose mission is to improve the quality of life for those affected by TMD. You may find something valuable on the site.) 


Ways To Manage Your TMJ Pain 


OTC pain relievers (NSAIDs) can help relieve your symptoms, and sometimes muscle relaxers may also be prescribed. Sometimes things such as warm compresses, ice or stress management techniques will be helpful. 


I encourage simple changes when you are experiencing discomfort. Let the joint rest. This great article gives you some great ideas for TMJ pain management, as well as some exercises that may help relieve TMJ pain and improve the movement of your jaw. Remember, these exercises are not myofunctional therapy and will not help correct habits, or functional impairment!


If you are suffering from TMJ pain or are being treated for TMD, I think it is a very good idea to talk with a Myofunctional Therapist. It doesn’t cost you a dime to make a free 30-minute appointment with me to talk about what you should do. Like I stated above, a tongue-tie is sometimes a very easy fix for TMJ pain and it is easily overlooked. Below are the muscles associated with the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). 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 are alleviated. 

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