Massage Therapy and Temporomandibular Disorders

Massage Therapy and Temporomandibular Disorders

It’s not news that massages offer more benefits to us than just a few heavenly minutes of relaxation (and some peace and quiet) – in reality they can serve as a natural solution to many of the illnesses, injuries, and everyday aches and pains we experience.

Of course, not all types of massages are suitable for every ache and pain – but the right massage can work wonders.

With that in mind, we are going to take a look at how massage therapy relates to and aids with one specific set of issues that many people experience: Temporomandibular disorders.


To put it in the simplest terms, the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the piece that connects your jawbone to your skull (along with the various ligaments and muscles that are connected to it).

This piece, the TMJ is a small disc-like piece of cartilage that sits between the upper jawbone (which is along the base of your skull) and the lower jawbone.

Essentially, it is a hinge (yes, like on a door) that allows movement of the jaw. Unlike a door hinge, however, which only provides one form or direction of movement, the TMJ enables us to move our jaws in a few different ways.

Not only does the TMJ allow us to move our jaw in an up and down motion, we are also able to move our jaws in both a forward and backward sliding motion and a side-to-side sliding motion.

This range of motions combine to allow us to perform various functions such as speaking, chewing food, etc.


When it comes to TMD, there are two directions you can take with your massage therapy treatment: intra-oral or extra-oral.

Intra-oral massages consist of treatment of the muscles inside of the cheek. This means the massage is done inside of your mouth. Massaging these muscles from inside, rather than from outside of the mouth, can actually be up to 80% more effective.

Extra-oral massages include any massaging of the facial muscles around the mouth from the outside. These massages are less invasive – and in turn more comfortable – and still highly effective for treating a variety of TMD symptoms.

Below we will take a look at one type of extra-oral massage that is commonly used to help treat issues surrounding the temporomandibular joint.

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