The benefits of intra-oral massage
What options exist if you have a painful “pop” when you open or close your mouth? How about clenching or grinding? Headaches? Tinnitus? Or maybe you’ve had head injuries from sports, auto-accidents, or surgery.
One option is to seek a massage therapist who is trained in intra-oral massage.
What is intra-oral massage?
Intra-oral massage is a specific type of massage that is performed by a massage therapist that has been properly trained in massaging muscles and other tissues inside the mouth. A clean, gloved hand is used as the fingertips apply pressure to help alleviate TMJ dysfunction of many types. (TMJ is short for temporomandibular joint. It’s where your jaw and skull meet, and what allows you to move your jaw).
Some of the most common TMJ-related dysfunctions that intra-oral massage can help with are: • Painful or popping TMJ
• Limited jaw movement
• Neck pain
• Whiplash injuries
• Facial injuries
What to expect while receiving intra-oral massage:
Intra-oral starts with an assessment of your TMJ. Your massage therapist may ask you a few questions about your symptoms and may also have you move your jaw around to help determine the areas of dysfunction, the impact there is on movement, and what actions elicit pain.
The massage itself can feel a bit invasive, as your massage therapist (while wearing gloves) will use their fingers on your face and in your mouth to assess muscle and other tissues to gain a better picture of your TMJ.
The muscles that are treated during intra-oral massage are some of the most ignored and untouched muscles of the body. As such, they can be so sensitive and tender that even light, methodic touch may feel intense. In the first few sessions, the pressure will be light, slow, and gentle. Over time, as the tenderness eases, your therapist may increase the pressure.
What to expect after intra-oral massage:
You may experience some soreness after your first few appointments. This is normal, as the muscles are not used to the touch yet. After a couple sessions, this soreness becomes less problematic.
The most common sensations described by those who have received intra-oral massage are increased relaxation, a sense of space within the joint, and freedom of movement that was not present before. This leads to less pain and less TMJ dysfunction.
Sometimes emotional releases can happen during or after an intra-oral session. For some people, a rapid release of tension can result in laughing, crying, and every emotion in between. This happens often enough and is nothing to worry about.
Once the intra-oral massage is done, your massage therapist will usually follow up with a scalp, neck, and shoulder massage to ease away tension. Before you leave, your therapist will go over any self-care they wish for you to do in between sessions.
If you are suffering from facial or TMJ discomfort, intra-oral massage can be a great resource to try!