Temporomandibular joint disorder, also known as TMD or TMJ, has become more common as the demands of the workplace, economy, and life become increasingly intense. Stress-induced clenching and grinding is at an all-time high, causing painful and misaligned jaw joints, a range of conditions called TMD or TMJ. With this prevalence, temporomandibular joint massages have become a more popular form of TMJ therapy.
What is Temporomandibular Joint Disorder?
The temporomandibular joint is located on both sides of the face just in front of the ears and connects the skull to the jawbone. This joint allows you to do things like talk, chew, swallow, yawn. Temporomandibular joint disorder occurs with excessive clenching or grinding of the teeth, stress, injury, head and neck strain, and other problems.
Common symptoms of TMJ include tenderness and pain, clicking, popping or squeaking sounds, trouble opening and closing the mouth, migraines, and neck and head tension.
How Can TMJ Massage Help?
The more popular form of TMD therapy, TMJ massages work the muscles around the temporomandibular joint, relieving tension and pain. Sometimes this includes an intraoral massage. If the patient has been suffering from TMJ for some time and has not found any relief from other treatment modalities, the dentist may recommend incorporating TMJ massage into the treatment plan. Often, after just one massage, the occupational physician finds that patients notice immediate relief.
What Happens During TMJ Massage?
When you have a TMJ massage, your dentist will first start by relaxing the muscles in your upper back and shoulders. They also work along your neck, chest, and collarbone to release tension in all areas connected to your temporomandibular joint. These are all extra-oral methods.
Often, a TMJ massage will also include intraoral methods. To do this, your dentist will wear gloves and massage the inside of your mouth between your cheeks and teeth, as well as the area under your tongue.
After working inside your mouth, your dentist may return to the outside of your mouth and relax the surrounding muscles in your chest, neck, shoulders and back again to relieve tension during your treatment. It is important that you report any discomfort or pain you feel during the treatment to our practitioner.
How Can You Reduce TMJ Pain at Home?
We understand that you can’t always see a professional when experiencing a TMJ flare, so here are some ways to ease your pain at home:
Apply pressure with your thumb to the area just below your cheekbone. Gently open your jaw while applying this pressure and repeat as needed.
Start by opening your chin and pushing your lower jaw forward. Then close the jaw so that your lower teeth are in front of your upper teeth. This method is called the bulldog method.
Move your thumb back or forward under your chin along the side of your jawbone.
Repeating these exercises as needed will help relieve tension in the muscles surrounding your temporomandibular joint and help you find much-needed relief.