Let's Talk About Your Jaw
You might think that jaw problems only affect the jaw but the more you know the more you see that this is just not the case. The Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) is the joint connecting your lower jaw to your skull. There are two joints, on either side of your head just in front of your ears. These joints allow your jaw move up and down as we chew bite and speak but also from side to side.
What we find here at Possum Hollow is that there is more to your jaw than meets the eye. Some people may only look into jaw problems if there is obvious signs of jaw dysfunction like popping sounds or jaw pain. However there are other symptoms that can be helped with integration of your jaw.
As we look deeper into the jaw joints (TMJ’s) we also discover that they do not operate in isolation but belong to one of the body’s main structural regulating systems known as the Stomatognathic System. Stomato = of the face & mouth and Gnathic = to gnaw, chew and bite.
Although Stomatognathic System is involved in the functions of chewing, biting, swallowing and even speech at the level of the jaw joints (TMJ’s ) its influence extends right throughout the body via the muscular and nervous systems because it has mechanical connections between the cranium and pelvis via the spinal column and indeed spinal cord.
As soon as we start to consider a system that involves the cranium and pelvis we are obliged to consider all of the possible interconnections of these two main structural control zones. The more we delve into the TMJ’s and their connection to the stomatognathic system the more we are obliged to think of the whole body.
Some Classical Symptoms of Jaw Dysfunction:
- Facial pain, neck pain, back pain, knee pain, shoulder pain
- Visual disturbance, digestive problems, menstrual problems, breathing problems, glandular problems Dizziness
- Pain particularly in chewing muscles, jaw joint or an ache around the ear
- Ear pain to the front of the ear
- Limited jaw movement or locking of the jaw
- Tiredness on waking, low energy
- A clicking/grating sound on jaw movement
Causes of Jaw Dysfunctions:
- Bad bite
- Weakened jaw disc
- Lack of exercise
- Stress and Anxiety
- Clenching ( this is know as Bruxism which comes from the Greek word “Brygmos” meaning grind or gnash the opposing row of upper and lower molar teeth)
- Chewing gum
- Nutritional deficiencies including low magnesium Drugs – eg. Ecstasy
- Poor posture (forward head posture), wear and tear of osteoarthritis or the inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis in the TMJ
It can be more common in women aged between 30-50 but I have seen it even in children and in some males. One interesting connection I have seen also is that when the jaw is not aligned there can be an effect with the neck, diagraphm and sacrum. Within the skull, the occiput drives the temporal bone and the temporal bone influences the jaw. Therefore restrictions, and imbalances, especially in the back and sides of the head can create uneven positions of the lower jaw and contribute to TMJ problems. However restrictions through the occiput and temporals can be influenced by postural imbalances from below (such as pelvic/sacral imbalance and tilts/rotations through the trunk and related soft tissues, many of which then run up to attach to the base and sides of the skull) extending the chain of cause and effect to many other areas of the body. Does the problem come from the jaw or from even the lower spine.
There also can be an effect on breathing so the client is more inclined to mouth breath especially at night. This can effect oxygen levels, adrenals and ultimately and metabolism (energy loss and weight gain)
If you have concerns about your jaw and would like to have it assessed and properly evaluated make and appointment with a Possum Hollow practitioner to do so. In fact the TMJ’s are so important to your health that a routine check every few months is an excellent idea. I asked a few of our practitioners to share their approach to jaw conditions:
Neurostructrual Integration (NST)
At Possum Hollow with NST we can asssess and treat jaw conditions. I personally found NST and jaw assessment crucial to my recovery from my cervical spine prolapsed discs. NST places great importance on the detection and correction of TMD (temporomandibular disorder) and regards the TMJ's (temporomandibular joints) as one of the body's main self-regulating mini bio-computers, that if in balance can contribute significantly to good health and energy levels but if out of balance can cause pain, lethargy, dysfunction and even disease.
Recently Allison Waghorne did a seminar on TMD ( Tendomandibular dysfunction) Massage treatment also can deliver great benefits regarding jaw pain. Both myofascial trigger point therapy are very effective in relieving TMD symptoms. The "fascia" in myofascia is the connective tissue covering muscles, organs, nerves,blood vessels and bones throughout the body. Healthy fascia in the jaw is flexible and moves without pain. Poor posture (forward head) , physical trauma, repetitive stress injuries,scarring or inflammationmight causes more rigid fascia that does not move as easily, thus causing decreased range of motion in the jaw.
Myofascial release technique and myofascial trigger point therapy are safe and effective massage modalities working directly with the fascia applying gentle sustained pressure into connective tissue restrictions to eliminate pain and restore motion.