There are many factors to look at for those with TMJ problems. In addition to the normal symptoms of jaw popping, facial pain…etc patients with tongue thursts most often have TMJ problems as well as airway problems. Due to the airway issues causing mouth breathing, these patients often have abnormal swallowing and chewing which forces the tongue forward or sideways when swallowing. Interestingly, tongue posturing can help TMJ patients learn to relax their jaw muscles. Notice the tongue between the teeth during swallowing in the photo:
These tongue thrusts cause open bites and malocclusion which in turn can get the jaw out of alignment and change the way the teeth meet together. Some individuals are told their tongue is too large, this is rare. The tongue is being forced forward in order to allow the patients to breath.
Oxygen is king and we will do whatever we need to in order to get oxygen in our body.
When treating patients with tongue thrusts, open bites, and TMJ airway assessment is indicated along with some tongue swallowing retraining to ensure long term success. It is for this reason some orthodontic cases relapse.