Treatment for TMJ pain involves more than just arbitrarily placing a “splint” in a patients mouth. What caused the patient to develop their TMJ dysfunction? Teeth certainly are not programmed to come in crooked or with overbites or underbites.
Some reasons that TMJ pain or dysfunction can develop are dental changes such as loss or wear of teeth), mouthbreathing, degeneration of the jaw joints from bad bites or trauma, poor habits such as grinding or nail biting, and posturally related issues and many airway problems even related to allergies.
There are many ways to treat TMJ, which is beyond the scope of this blog. Many times patients do not respond to treatment methods and they have seen “TMJ specialists" (although there is not recognized specialty in the United States), orthodontists, oral surgeons, ENTs, neurologists, and even chiropractors. This is often where the need for Myofunctional Therapy in conjunction with other treatments is sometimes needed.
What is Myofunctional therapy (MFT)? Generally speaking, employs techniques to rebalance the muscles of breathing, chewing, and swallowing. With this, many times the pain and signs of TMJ decrease.
Mouthbreathing, tongue position, and airway are worked with protocols specifically designed to strengthen, rebalance, and coordinate the facial muscles and tongue. This is essential for long term health. Amazingly, the facial muscles relax when the tongue is in the right position on the roof of the mouth during swallowing, rest, chewing, and sleeping as well.
Patients who mouthbreath disrupt the development and function of these oral structures which often lead to TMJ pain as well as other health issues including snoring and sleep apnea, cervical pain, postural issues, impaired cognitive ability and many more.
With TMJ treatment, even though the joints are properly realigned and the posture corrected, symptoms may persist if the tongue is working in a physiologic way. This is where MFT comes into play. MFT is usually used in conjunction with other treatments, however, is essential. Utilizing MFT often helps ones overall health with chewing, swallowing, breathing , as well as decreased facial pain.
If you have any questions about Houston TMJ Pain or Myfunctional therapy, please contact our office, Ronald W. Konig DDS, FAGD, LVIF, FIAPA, 713-668-2289.