Treating TMJ issues: who experiences it?

Did you know that about 12 percent of Americans are experiencing TMJ disorders at any one time? This is from TMJ.org.

Also, did you know that women are 9 times more likely than men to experience severe pain and restricted jaw movement? The majority of women who have TMJ disorders are in their childbearing years — which indicates that hormones, pregnancy, labor, and delivery may play a role. 

Also, many women have full-time jobs and still do the majority of the housework and child care. If that’s not stressful, I don’t know what is! 

Some known causes, according to TMJ.org, are autoimmune diseases, injuries, infections, dental procedures/prolonged mouth opening, pre-surgery breathing tube insertion, and arthritis.

Genetic and environmental factors can increase the risk. A particular gene variant more prevalent among TMD sufferers increases sensitivity to pain. Gum chewing and sustained postures may also play a role.

How about stress, I ask? How about clenching and grinding habits and the resultant muscle tension from overuse of jaw muscles? 

The way I see it, after working on TMJ issues therapeutically as a massage therapist since 2013, in addition to the known factors listed above, these issues can also stem from:

Stress and the accompanying muscle tension

Habits like clenching and grinding the teeth and bracing the jaw 

Dopamine deficiency 

Structure, including skeletal asymmetries as well as poor waking and sleeping posture 

Medications that have jaw pain as a side effect

Family patterns that may be learned or genetic

There’s a sad lack of research and data on this topic, and I note that it’s one of many issues that affect more women than men (like migraines) that do not get much attention from the health care field. 

Imagine that migraines got as much attention from the medical field that erectile dysfunction has gotten. 


What to do if you have jaw issues? I offer a 30-minute in-person TMJ consultation to gather information and evaluate your issues. I also teach clenchers an alternative to clenching and provide known ways to stop grinding, from those who succeeded.

These habits are major contributors to TMJ issues, and you can change them.

If you’re not in Austin, I can do the above as well as help you learn what to ask about when seeking TMJ relief near you. Just let me know if you need a phone or Zoom consultation.

I offer a combination TMJ Consultation plus TMJ Relief session in person in Austin, Texas, and in Taos, NM, in sumemrs. The consultation serves as an intake, so I have a better idea of what your issues are and how we’ll measure progress. Your consultation is free when combined with your first TMJ Relief session. This is a two-hour session.

To be fair, when you’ve had TMJ issues for a long time, or they are acute, you may need multiple sessions to retrain your system to retain the ease and alignment, along with doing your homework to stop clenching or grinding your teeth.

I offer a package of four TMJ Relief sessions for 10 percent off single sessions, best done a week or two apart. These sessions are 90 minutes and integrate various bodywork modalities — including work in your mouth — so that you feel great when you get off the table. They are best done over 4 to 6 weeks.

If you’re really adventurous, you can schedule a 75-minute Self-Treatment for TMJ Issues session on Zoom where we’ll do an intake and I will teach you how to work on releasing the tension patterns that cause problems, including working in your own mouth. You’ll need clean hands and short nails. It’s really not that hard! Learn more about it here.

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