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Massage Therapy Treatment for TMJ (Jaw) Dysfunction

Did you Know?

The resting position of the jaw and tongue is when your upper and lower teeth are slightly apart, and your tongue is gently resting on the roof of your mouth just behind the upper central teeth.


What is the TMJ?

The acronym TMJ stands for “Temporomandibular Joint”.  TMJ dysfunction is a disorder of the muscles of mastication (chewing), the temporomandibular joints and associated structures.


Causes of TMJ Dysfunction:

• Predisposition (genetics or trauma to the face, neck or jaw)
• Tissue alteration (postural dysfunction, spasms, trigger points, etc.)
• Stress (increase in tone of the chewing muscles due to jaw clenching, tooth grinding, or habitual gum chewing)



• Pain in the jaw, face, or ear area
• A clicking or popping sound when opening or closing the jaw
• Headaches (commonly felt in the temples or forehead) or earaches
• Jaw that “gets stuck”, locks, or goes out of place


What can Massage Therapy do?

Massage treatment can be very effective to reduce the muscle tension and trigger points in the jaw, neck and shoulders.  These areas will commonly be tender if TMJ dysfunction is present, but working with a RMT to meet your goals (decreasing pain or reducing headaches) will provide positive results.  Your dentist will commonly prescribe a mouth guard to wear at night to prevent your teeth from wearing down from chronic grinding, if necessary.  Massage treatment in all of these areas will also help to reduce stress and improve posture.



Place the tips of your fingers on your cheekbones, then move your fingers down (they should be about an inch in front of your ears).  If you clench your teeth with your fingers there, you will feel the masseter muscles engaged (the main muscles of chewing).  You can then make small circles with your fingers to massage the area.

It is common to forget about the jaw muscles that we use for eating and talking all day long, but they can be a large contributing factor to neck pain or headaches.  If you think massage therapy treatment would be beneficial for you, please do not hesitate to contact our clinic for an appointment.


Contributed by


Leslie Brown, RMT

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Marnie Kerr
March 1, 2024
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Norfolk Wellness Blog Contributor
April 13, 2023
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