Buccal Massage For TMJ-effectively reduce 1 or more uncomfortable symptoms of TMJ disorder with intraoral Buccal Massage


Buccal Massage for TMJ by Dr. Kristina Mokhir, ND

Buccal massage is the most advanced rejuvenating and therapeutic facial massage technique. Buccal face massage has been growing in popularity in the last few years ever since it was discovered that many celebrities and the Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle herself swear by the many benefits of this truly unique facial massage. Benefits of buccal massage include improving the facial contour, reducing nasolabial folds and jowls, improving blood and lymphatic flow, and also releasing tension in the jaw. Such tension is quite common with many people experiencing it occasionally or in more severe cases on the daily basis. Persistent jaw tension, soreness, discomfort, and clicking can be associated with a disorder called the TMJD (TMD) or the Temporomandibular Joint and Muscle Disorder. Got your tongue twisted saying it? Let’s keep it simple and stick to the abbreviation instead. TMJ disorder can be challenging to diagnose and treat because of how complex the joint is. TMJ is a small and delicate joint that connects the jaw to the skull. It is one of the most complex joints in the body that together with several muscles allows the jaw to move up and down, side to side, forward and backward. When the muscle tone is normalized, and the jaw and joints are properly aligned, movement of the jaw is smooth and effortless. When the muscles are overly tight and the jaw and joints are not aligned, movement is restricted & non-synchronized, which creates uncomfortable symptoms such as: 

      • tension and stiffness in the jaw muscles 
      • limited movement, or locking of the jaw 
      • jaw soreness.
      • painful clicking, popping or grinding of the joint during opening or closing of the mouth

Other symptoms may also include: 

      • pain spreading to the face, neck, shoulder, or back
      • headache, migraine 
      • earache 
      • pain spreading behind the eyes
      • a change in the way upper and lower teeth fit together 
      • numbness or tingling sensation in the fingers
      • dizziness
      • teeth sensitivity without an apparent dental condition

Did you know that TMJ disorder is the second most common musculoskeletal pain after back pain? It’s true, TMJ disorder is common, affecting 33% of the American population with at least 1 TMJ symptom. Women seem to be affected more than men, and it is believed that hormone variations may play a role. The exact causes of the TMJ disorder however are not known but trauma to the jaw or temporomandibular joint plays a role in some presentations. As with most chronic pain, TMJ disorder is not only a physical or biological condition. Factors such as social and psychological (behavioral) are also involved. For example, stress may cause or aggravate TMJ disorder. When the body experiences chronic stress, muscles become increasingly tense which may predispose the person to TMJ disorder. Chronic teeth clenching and grinding during the day or at night also create sustained muscle tension which can make TMJ disorder worse. As you can see, there are so many contributing factors. It is not surprising, that scientists cannot identify one single cause of TMJ disorder.

Current treatments include self-care practices, pain medication, stabilization splints, Botox, surgery, and implants. Botox and invasive treatments have not been proven to be effective, and experts recommend using the least invasive treatments. This is where Buccal massage shines. 

Buccal massage is a non-invasive facial massage technique that is performed from inside and outside the mouth. The word “buccal” means relating to or located in the cheeks or mouth. It is a form of intraoral massage that works on normalizing the muscle tone of the facial muscles, especially the muscles involved in mastication. What makes Buccal massage effective for relieving the symptoms of TMJ disorder? Muscles involved in the TMJ disorder include muscles of the mastication such as the Masseter, Temporalis, and Medial and Lateral Pterygoids. While Masseter and Temporalis muscles can be accessed from outside of the mouth, Medial and Lateral Pterygoids can only be effectively reached from inside the mouth. Buccal massage helps to release tension in these hard-to-reach muscles but also of all the muscles within the mouth and surrounding area. Buccal massage is performed both on the inside of the mouth but also simultaneously on the outside which provides a truly holistic and comprehensive approach to TMJ disorder. 

Aside from being able to release tension in hard-to-reach muscles and providing a comprehensive approach to TMJ disorder, Buccal massage also provides another special feature. Discovery in the 1960s,& 1970s following many years of observation established new acupuncture points located in the oral cavity in the mucous membrane. While being needled  inside the mouth doesn’t seem like a very pleasant experience, providing specific pressure on acupuncture points (acupressure) is an effective and painless alternative. The unique feature of oral acupuncture is that stimulation of the acupoints can help not only nearby structures (such as the TMJ), but also various distant parts of the body (ex. shoulder, hip, back, etc). The points represent a microsystem of our whole body-the phenomenon that was discovered by a French neurologist and physician Dr. Paul Nogier.

If you are experiencing symptoms of TMJ disorder, Buccal massage is an excellent form of complementary therapy that will not only help alleviate symptoms of TMJD but also leave you feeling and looking rejuvenated.

Read more about Buccal Massage at Vita Epidermology Center


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