Do you grind your teeth when sleeping? Does your jaw “click” or “pop”? Has your dentist prescribed a mouth guard for you? Does your jaw feel tight? If you are nodding yes to any of those questions, consider a TMJ massage – a what? Temporomandibular joint massage – a jaw massage! A quick anatomy tour will help explain how and why there can be pain in our jaw and how massage can release that tension.
There are two sets of these muscles totaling 8 – four on the right side of the jaw and four on the left. All four muscles work in tandem to keep the joint in an optimized position, necessary for chewing/talking/drinking.
How can massage help?
Typically the masseter muscle takes the brunt of holding tension through actions such as clenching teeth and can become very over worked and tight. The masseter muscles of jaw can be felt just in front of your ear on your jaw bone. Contributing behaviours to holding stress in this area are chewing gum and clenching when concentrating. This encourages us to subconsciously bite down or clench our teeth, even when not chewing gum.
By encouraging these holding patterns causing unnecessary tension in muscles there is a decrease of range of motion, that tight discomfort leading to pain and knots in the muscles further leading to headaches.
The unique structure of the jaw allows for a therapist to massage both the extra-oral muscles (outside the mouth) and intra-oral muscles (inside the mouth) simultaneously. Intra-oral work is extremely beneficial for releasing tension to primarily the masseter and the remaining three inner most TMJ muscles.
This treatment takes approximately 15 minutes per side and has tremendous tension releasing benefits which can be felt immediately.
FAQ: Is this treatment painful? There may be some tenderness in specific areas, but you will be able to speak, eat and drink as you would normally. I highly recommend TMJ massage for those clients who do grind their teeth at night and have clicking/popping sounds in their jaw. Book your TMJ treatment this weekend!
Christina Gouveia is a Registered Massage Therapist at the Integrative Health Institute located in downtown Toronto at the corner of King and Sherbourne. Christina has a strong appreciation for alternative medicine and healing. Christina has a strong interest in myofascial work, with a focus to scar tissue both surgical and injury related, orthopaedic testing, pregnancy massage, temporalmandubular dysfunction (TMD), deep tissue techniques and, of course, relaxation.
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