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TMD, AIRWAY, & SWALLOWING ISSUES

Updated: May 12

What's Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD)?


A temporomandibular disorder (TMD) is a very common problem affecting around 12% of people in the United States. Women are affected more often than men, with 9 women to every 1 man experiencing severe and restricted jaw movement. Disorders of the temporomandibular joint are prevalent, most commonly observed in individuals between the ages of 20 and 40, although children as young as 14 are showing up with complaints.


TMD is often viewed as a repetitive motion disorder and eventual breakdown of the masticatory structures (jaw joint and surrounding muscles). The current perspective is that it's an orofacial Myofunctional disorder of mouth breathing due to airway resistance.



How Does Airway Resistance Affect You?

Airway resistance is a condition where the airway is too narrow or blocked by mucus from allergies or by interference from the tongue. The body's response to the lack of air overnight is to keep the sleeper aroused by clenching and grinding the teeth. Bruxing and clenching in people of all ages can be linked to airway disturbances during sleep.



The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is located at the base of the skull. It allows for movement required for chewing and talking. The joint connects the mandible, which is the lower jaw, and the temporal bone, which is on the side of the skull. The TMJ may generate compensatory muscle behaviors that cause increased tension to the muscles of the jaw and the joint.


The muscles of the jaw with increased tension can cause clicking/popping or grating sounds in the jaw, limited opening, flat teeth, pain in the jaw joint, and headaches. Neck and back pain, commonly attributed to TMD or clenching or bruxing, has been relieved by releasing untreated tongue-tie. The tied tongue can be a cause of sleep-disordered breathing, leading to bruxing, as well as leading to pain in the neck or upper back.


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How Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy (OMT) Can Help You!

Orofacial myofunctional therapy (OMT), a modality of exercise therapy, has also been suggested for the management of TMD in order to equilibrate the orofacial muscles and to favor the execution of the teeth, jaw, and associated jaw, swallowing, and speech muscles. OMT has the following positive effects in treated patients:


a significant reduction of pain sensitivity to palpation of all muscles studied but not for the TMJs;

● increased measures of mandibular range of motion;

● reduced frequency and severity of signs and symptoms; and

● increased scores for orofacial myofunctional conditions.




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