What is Myofunctional Therapy and how can it help with TMJ and TMD?
Chances are that you have heard the old adage that it takes 47 muscles to frown, but only 13 to smile. While the exact amount of muscles is sometimes disputed, the basis for the argument is accurate: it takes more effort to frown than to smile. This adage is typically used in an effort to spread an optimistic message, encouraging people to stop wasting so much effort frowning and spend more time smiling and being happy. But what happens if the joints on your face hurt and it literally causes you pain to frown or smile? We are Muscles in Harmony and our goal is to help people get their facial muscles working together in harmony, and today we would like to discuss how myofunctional therapy can help with TMJ and TMD.
What is TMJ?
TMJ is the abbreviation for the temporomandibular joints. These are the two joints on your face connecting your skull and lower jaw. These joints rotate in front of your ears when you open your mouth, allowing for movement of the mandible, which is the lower jaw, and the temporal bone, which is the base and side of your skull. If the temporomandibular joints are properly aligned with the mandible, it allows for ease when using your mouth. Talking, chewing, yawning, swallowing, and even smiling are all actions that involve using the TMJ and mandible, and if they are not aligned properly it can cause pain and even TMD.
What is TMD?
TMD is the abbreviation for temporomandibular disorder. Essentially, this disorder prevents the muscles, nerves, and joints in your jaw from working in harmony resulting in chronic jaw and facial pain. TMD is typically caused either by excessive strain on the jaw muscles and joints, or by bruxism, which is when someone unintentionally grinds their teeth or clenches their jaw frequently. Other causes include arthritis or injuries such as a dislocated or broken jaw. TMD can be classified into three different groups: myofascial pain, internal derangement of the joint, or degenerative joint disease.
How can Myofunctional Therapy help with TMD?
Among the benefits of Myofunctional Therapy is the way it can help treat TMD. Myofunctional Therapy works to improve someone’s breathing, biting, and facial posture through various physical therapy exercises. It can be used to treat a number of orofacial myofunctional disorders (OMDs), including TMD. What is so unique about myofunctional therapy is that it uses neuromuscular re-education to teach your body what it already has the capability of doing. This therapy re-educates the brain to break bad habits (such as grinding the teeth) to allow the jaw muscles to work properly.
For temporomandibular disorder, myofunctional therapy fixates on the position of your tongue. As simple as our tongue might seem, it can have such a big impact on our overall health. By helping you to reposition your tongue in your mouth, this type of therapy can correct TMD and other types of myofunctional disorders since the new position of the tongue will have a ripple effect of benefits and will help to alleviate your chronic face pain and allow your temporomandibular joints to function properly again.
It’s Time to Start Smiling More
If you suffer from chronic face pain it likely means you suffer when you chew, swallow, yawn, talk, or even smile. Myofunctional Therapy can help to alleviate your jaw pain and give you something to smile about, while simultaneously making it easier to smile in the first place. Please feel free to give Muscles in Harmony a call at (480) 442-1590 or send us an email so we can start today on healing your TMD. It’s time to re-educate your facial joints and muscles so that you can heal and start smiling regularly again.