The Tongue and TMJ pain
We are continuing our series on how the tongue can connect to many different pain issues throughout the body. We've discussed in previous blogs how optimal resting tongue posture is the entire tongue contacting the roof of the mouth. Tongue posture on the floor of the mouth can lead to the development of more narrow palates (roof of mouth) causing TMJ issues as an adult.
The optimal resting position of the tongue on the roof of the mouth beginning in infancy and early childhood helps shape the roof of the mouth or the palate. If the tongue is not consistently positioned on the roof of the mouth due to tightness or weakness, the palate remains narrow causing teeth crowding due to lack of space. Thus, the need for orthodontics, palate expansion and wisdom teeth pulled in teenage years or adulthood.
Our jaws/mouths are becoming too small for all our teeth. Part of this is due to epigenetics not fully understood but in part due to diet. Weston A. Price was a dentist who studied teeth and jaw structure in certain regions and cultures and noted a significant difference in the size and shape of the face, jaw and mouth. This crowding can lead to TMJ issues, malocclusion and alignment, snoring (aka beginning stages of sleep apnea) and chronic neck pain into adulthood. All of these issues can be traced back in part to the tongue which is one of the shapers of the palate.
There are many muscles of the tongue that have their attachments on the jaw, therefore restrictions in the tongue in combination with narrow palate can cause malalignment or imbalances leading to TMJ pain. Many practitioners focus on the muscles and exercises for the joint itself, however, do not incorporate optimal position, strengthening and range of motion for the tongue.
At Be Still Physical Therapy, we don't overlook the importance of the tongue when it comes to TMJ issues. A combination of craniosacral fascial techniques from the Gillespe Approach can help address stubborn TMJ pain. Struggling with TMJ pain and haven't gotten full relief, the tongue could be a missing piece, contact us today!