Treating TMJ Issues: Learn to treat your own issues on Zoom.

I am now offering Self-Treatment for TMJ Issues on Zoom, in case you are interested in learning to work in your own mouth to relieve your jaw issues.

You’ll share your symptoms and history, address your habits and other contributing factors, learn to release tension and stress from your system, and … learn to work in your own mouth, with guidance from a seasoned manual therapist who can speak your language.

The upside: You’ll save money, get a brief video recapping the intraoral skills to help you practice and integrate these skills, acquire several other skills that will help you relieve your own TMJ issues for the rest of your life, and have the confidence that you got this — NEXT!

How hard is it? If you’re not afraid to get your clean fingers wet or wear medical gloves, and if you can tell the difference between touching something hard and touching something soft, and if you are willing to go slowly with sensitivity, you can do it.

It’s often a revelation.

There’s no need to learn anatomical language. I can share that if you like, but most of the instructions are like this: ”slide the side of your index finger down your bottom molars on the opposite side…”.

Click to schedule your session.

What have you got to lose?

How often should I come for Craniosacral Therapy sessions?

I recommend that for most issues, you schedule weekly at first, and as your health returns, to taper off to every other week and then monthly until you feel well.

Although changes you can feel do occur during sessions, most of the activity of optimizing your health occurs between sessions. Subtle changes in your physiology that begin during sessions continue to transform your system after you leave my office.

Thus, Biodynamics sessions may seem subtle, sometimes almost as if nothing happened, but by the next session, you notice improvement. One mom whose daughter was stressed from high school told me that three days after receiving a Biodynamics session, her daughter felt on top of everything.

I myself have suddenly noticed weeks after receiving a Biodynamics session that an issue I had sought help for no longer existed. It had simply disappeared.

Occasionally after a session, a client may feel worse, because a strain pattern that was quietly causing problems suddenly woke up, and it’s feeling grumpy, causing discomfort.

If that happens, call me. Sometimes it’s best to wait it out until your next session and self-soothe, knowing your system is reorganizing itself. If you experience too much discomfort, come in sooner.

Many people have found Biodynamics sessions so enjoyable, they make a place in their lives for regular sessions to maintain their well-being.

Would you like a nervous system reset?

Stress. Nearly everyone experiences too much of it.

Take driving in Austin. Rush hour. I-35.

Or reading/listening to the news. Loud voices convinced they are right, trying to persuade you to believe them. Politics, vaccines, polarization. Anger. Blame.

How about work/life balance? Money. Family and relationship issues. Social media. Injustice. The list of potential stressors goes on.

Stress is everywhere, affecting our body-mind systems. It can be acute, a physical reaction to a threat, where ideally our systems return to a calm, alert state when the threat is gone.

It can also be chronic, a long-term condition affecting the health of the entire system.

Chronic stress affects sleep, blood pressure, muscle tension and pain. It can cause headaches, panic attacks, anxiety, depression. It can contribute to addictions and obesity and chronic diseases.

You would have to live in a thick bubble not to notice and experience the effects of stress on our systems, our lives, living in these times.

Something you may not realize is that your body-mind system performs most of its health-maintaining and prolonging functions when you are relaxed.

Relaxation slows your heart rate and breathing (less wear and tear on those organs) and improves the functioning of your entire digestive system (more availability of nutrients to cells).

When you are stressed, your system’s resources are focused on managing threats.

Relaxation in this modern life takes some effort. It involves many choices made over time.

If you are feeling the effects of chronic stress and would like to reset your nervous system in the moment, you can slow your breathing and make your exhalations longer, practice the physiological sigh (3 times), or do the 4-7-8 breath (4 times).

Try them all and discover what works best for you, at least twice a day. Then use it when a bad driver nearly hits you, or you get an unexpected or unaffordable bill, or…whatever stresses you.

You can commit to a daily meditation practice. Ten minutes is a good length to start with. Even one minute of silence and stillness, with your attention turned inward, makes a difference, if you use it several times a day.

You can also jumpstart your nervous system reset by getting a craniosacral therapy session.

How does it work? In both biomechanical (i.e., Upledger trained) and biodynamic craniosacral therapy, still points play an important role.

A still point is a pause in the fluctuation of your cerebrospinal fluid, a subtle rhythm that affects your entire system from deep inside your body.

When a still point occurs, it gives your autonomic nervous system a chance to pause and rebalance.

With repeated still points, which can be brief or last 20 minutes or longer, as well as choices you make to minimize stressors in your life, the equilibrium of your autonomic nervous system can move toward more relaxation and greater health.

Link to a pilot study on the effects of craniosacral therapy on the autonomic nervous system.

Simply put, recurring or continuous stress that the body is unable to deal with affects us physiologically, structurally and emotionally. Eventually we reach a point of constant alertness, which depletes the body, and downgrades its ability to balance itself. By stimulating the rest and recovery systems of the body, the subtle work of CST allows the body to resource its powers of rehabilitation and revival.

Craniosacral Therapy Association, UK

Treating TMJ issues: asymmetries in the rest of the body affect the jaw joints

Jaw pain is rarely entirely in the jaw!

If you were building a tower, and one of the floors wasn’t level, it would affect the floors above it — unless you somehow compensated.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is kind of like that, only it’s because it has settled unevenly on the ground beneath it. As they built it over the years, it would sink, stabilize, sink more…

The structure of the body is like that too — even when standing on level solid ground.

Because the jaw is near the top of the skeleton, imbalances below can affect the alignment and functionality of the temporomandibular joints (TMJs).

The primary cause of most jaw pain is asymmetrical hypertonicity. Thanks, TMJ Mastery teacher John Corry! That means that some of the muscles that affect the jaw are tighter than others.

I ask about structural anomalies in my TMJ consultations. I’m interested in whether one foot is flatter than the other, whether there’s a leg length discrepancy or a pelvic tilt or curvature of the spine.

I’ve been known to slide my hands under a client’s arches with them standing to see if their arches are symmetrical.

When a client is lying on my massage table, I can check for a leg length discrepancy.

I can also tune into their cranial rhythm and notice whether there’s asymmetry in the flexion and extension motions at the feet, which indicates asymmetry in the pelvis.

I also feel the space beneath the ears between the bones to see whether the skull is sitting symmetrically atop the spine.

When the skull and spine are out of alignment, it can contribute to multiple dysfunctions, with TMJ issues being one of them. (Ask me — I experienced intermittent right jaw clicking and my face drifting slightly to the left in meditation until a chiropractor realigned my AO joint, which also resolved issues that were all on my left side.)

1 shows the line between the mastoid processes. 2 shows the C1 vertebrae. From the sides, feel the convex bony area beneath your ears and come down up to 1/2″ to feel the ends of the C1 vertebrae. Notice if the space is symmetrical.


For more on this, including exercises you can do starting at 5:25, watch this video.

The last part of my evaluation for symmetry is to place the pads of my fingers (or have the client place their fingerpads) over the TMJs right in front of the ears and ask them to open and close repeatedly.

Often one side moves first.

Often one side feels closer to the ear than the other.

Sometimes one side sticks out more than the other.

One side may move with more ease than the other.

Try it on yourself. What do you notice?

None of this is super precise. I’m just getting a basic read on asymmetries in the client’s structure that may affect their TMJs.

Have you noticed that you have a dominant side? A side that feels stronger than the other? Most of your issues occurring on one side only?

Have you had a foot, ankle, leg, or hip injury? Can you still tell a difference between the injured side and the uninjured one? Can you balance as easily on your left foot as your right, or is one side weaker?

How’s your posture? How about your sleep posture?

Also, do you primarily chew on one side of your mouth?

Becoming more symmetrical can be a good long-term self-care project that can pay off with more ease of movement, less discomfort, better balance, injury prevention.

Symmetry is an ideal, like perfection. Most of us are doing the best we can. There’s always going to be some asymmetry in the body (our abdominal organs are asymmetrical), but we can definitely address our most dysfunctional areas.

The functional movement screen is a set of 7 movements you do with a trainer, who scores you and can prescribe workouts that strengthen your weaknesses.

FMS was developed to identify athletes who were prone to injury before they got injured. It can work for ordinary people too.

Here’s a link to view the screening movements. You can find a trainer near you online.

Practices of non-linear movement can help if done regularly over a long period. These movements work both sides of the body and increase neuroplasticity in the brain. They increase flexibility and balance and fluidity. And they are fun! Examples:

  • yoga, especially alignment-oriented types like Iyengar and Anusara
  • qi gong
  • tai chi
  • Gyrokinesis
  • martial arts
  • dance

The type of bodywork that directly addresses asymmetries is called structural bodywork. There are two main schools of training: Rolfing Structural Integration and Anatomy Trains Structural Integration. Neuromuscular therapy also assesses posture and gait pattern and can address imbalances.


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.

Treating TMJ issues: restless legs and sleep bruxism

A new clue about bruxism.

A neurology practice noted that of its patients who had restless legs syndrome (RLS), 60% also had bruxism (grinding teeth during sleep). Eighty-three percent had RLS and migraines, and 52% had RLS, migraines, and bruxism.

Do you relate?

The lead neurologist for this study speculated there is a gene that links these conditions.

It gets more interesting. Both restless legs syndrome and bruxism are involuntary movements occurring during sleep. Is bruxism “restless jaw syndrome?”

I’m always happy to see new research about TMJ-related issues, especially because there are so many factors that play a role in jaw dysfunction and pain.

This may be something to show your doctor, or you may be interested in taking a supplement or adding foods to your diet that help your body produce more dopamine (more info below).

More about bruxism.

Bruxism includes clenching and grinding the teeth. Some distinguish these as “waking bruxism” and “sleep bruxism”.

They may have different causes.

Sleep bruxism, in contrast to daytime clenching, is harder to treat because it occurs when you’re unaware of your behavior and unable to change it.

Waking bruxism is a habit that can change with awareness and practice. I’ve helped many clenchers learn how to relax their mouth position.

Some things I’ve noted about bruxism in my manual therapy practice:

  • Many people don’t know they grind during sleep until a dentist tells them they have damaged teeth.
  • Sometimes the noise of grinding during sleep is loud enough to wake up family members or housemates, and that’s how people learn they have sleep bruxism.
  • People who grind at night often wake up with jaw, face, or neck pain, earaches, and/or headaches.
  • Bruxism often results in the need for expensive dental work: mouthguards or splints to prevent further damage, crowns to fortify cracked or broken teeth, and sometimes implants.
  • Over time, bruxism can seriously damage the temporomandibular joints to the point of requiring surgery. It’s so much better to address jaw issues before it gets that bad.

Dentists and jaw issues.

Many people expect dentists to be experts on jaw issues, yet their domain is treating the teeth and gums.

Learning about TMJ disorders is not required in dental school. It’s an elective.

General practice dentists can prevent further tooth damage with appliances like mouthguards and splints. They can repair existing tooth damage or replace teeth with implants.

Some dentists may try to adjust the positioning of the TMJs, and a few more recently-trained dentists also address airway issues (like sleep apnea, which may accompany sleep bruxism) in their work.

Dentists do not address stress or tension in the jaw muscles, which contribute so much to jaw pain. Any overworked muscle will tighten, be painful, and perhaps spasm. The jaw muscles are no different. Sometimes they get taut bands within the muscle tissue that limit range of motion.

Working with muscles is the domain of massage therapists.

I receive referrals for TMJ Relief consultations and sessions from some of the best dentists and hygienists in Austin.

Solutions to try.

If you grind your teeth during sleep, it is possible to stop by using hypnotherapy or EFT (tapping).

I often recommend a recorded hypnotherapy session for bruxism that’s available on YouTube to listen to before sleep.

I don’t know if it works for everyone, but it’s soothing — I always fall asleep before it ends.

Less stress is always desirable.

I’ve also heard from someone who did this that starting a regular meditation practice can reduce or stop bruxism completely over time. There are many types of meditation. If you want to try this, choose a type of meditation that is relaxing and includes body awareness. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction is taught online.

As mentioned above, dopamine agonists are prescribed for low dopamine levels.

Dopamine is released when your brain is expecting a reward — when you anticipate a pleasurable activity such as eating a delicious meal, spending time with someone you love, or receiving a big check.

It’s sometimes called “the happy hormone” because it affects your enthusiasm, motivation, and focus.

If you suffer from bruxism, before going the pharmaceutical route with dopamine agonist drugs, you may want to consider nutrition — consuming foods or taking supplements that raise your dopamine levels.

In particular the amino acid tyrosine increases dopamine.

I found a few links that may be helpful:


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.