Choose a practitioner for intra-oral TMJ therapy that works on the lateral pterygoids

So far I’ve had two clients come in for TMJ relief sessions who have previously seen multiple practitioners who worked inside their mouths.

They’ve seen chiropractors, chiropractic neurologists, Rolfers, dentists trained by the Las Vegas Institute (LVI), and/or other massage therapists.

These two clients both told me, “No one has ever touched me there,” after I worked on their lateral pterygoids.

These are small and hard to access muscles, and in my opinion (and my main TMJ teacher’s opinion), they are most often the key muscles to address to release jaw tension.

anatomy of the jaw muscles

It’s not that the other jaw muscles don’t contribute. They do, and in roughly 10% of the TMD cases I’ve worked on so far, one of the medial pterygoids is the problem child.

The external jaw muscles — the masseters and temporalises — also play a role in jaw tension but are never (that I’ve seen in 5 years) the biggest cause.

In other words, 90% of the time when people have jaw pain from muscle tension, the lateral pterygoids are the biggest culprit.

It’s not that these other intra-oral practitioners have nothing to offer. I’m not familiar with all of them, but chiropractors, Rolfers, and massage therapists have definitely helped me.

But if jaw tension and pain resulting from jaw tension is your major complaint, and you’d like a sense of spaciousness in your TMJs (if you can even imagine how great that would feel), go to a practitioner that works on the lateral pterygoids.

Click here to book a free 30-minute consultation.

Other things that distinguish my work:

  • I work as gently as possible.
  • I never make any sudden moves.
  • My sessions start with full body alignment to get you relaxed and progress toward the intra-oral work in the middle of the session, ending with deep relaxation.
  • I offer you legal hemp oil to relieve anxiety, pain, and inflammation before working in your mouth. It’s not required, but some clients really like it.
  • I offer single TMJ Relief sessions as well as a TMJ Relief Program consisting of 5 sessions in 4-6 weeks for lasting change, along with education and support for habit change and self-care.
  • I created a Facebook group, Word of Mouth: Resources for Jaw Pain/Dysfunction, for people who want to work on their jaw issues.

I hope this information helps you at least ask informed questions when choosing a practitioner to relieve your jaw tension and pain.

Treating TMJ issues: the jaw and the endocrine system

How is it possible that TMJ disorder can affect the endocrine system? Fasten your seatbelt for a geeky ride!

The primary soft tissue culprits in jaw tension and pain are some small, nearly inaccessible muscles at the upper back part of your mouth toward your ear and cheekbone and in a bit, on both sides, of course.

These muscles are called the lateral pterygoids. They attach at one end to the articular disc that glides between the two bones of the jaw joint, the mandible and the temporalis, when you move your jaw.

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At the other end they attach to the lateral plates of the pterygoid processes of the sphenoid bone.

Now, the sphenoid bone is one of the most fascinating bones in the body. It spans the inside of your head behind your eyes and in front of your ears, with its greater wings lying under your temples. The sphenoid articulates with 11 other cranial bones. It is shaped sort of like a moth, with the moth’s legs coming down to the very back of your mouth, behind your back molars, where your lateral pterygoids attach to the sphenoid’s pterygoid plates. Maybe you see where I’m going.

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At the lower parts of the sphenoid bone you have these tight jaw muscles, the lateral pterygoids, tugging the bone down — and often one side is tighter than the other. (The view above is from the top down and doesn’t show the pterygoid plates.)

At the upper part of the sphenoid bone, there is a magnificent little structure called the sella turcica, or Turkish saddle (aka the hypophyseal fossa). And guess what’s riding in the saddle? The pituitary gland!

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The pituitary is about the size of a pea, and it is the master gland of the entire human body. It produces hormones and also directs other glands to produce hormones, including sex hormones, growth hormones, stress hormones, and thyroid hormones that regulate metabolism.

Here’s the connection: When the TMJs are tight or imbalanced, it can interfere with the pituitary’s orchestration of the endocrine system, resulting in stress, libido, fertility, metabolic, and/or emotional issues.

I offer a TMJ treatment that works inside the mouth to help the lateral pterygoids become more relaxed and balanced.