Jaw and Tongue Tension
and Voice

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Note: Also read "TMJ Problems" article in this website.

There are many factors that contribute to tightness or tension in the many complex muscles around your  jaws as well as that big muscle in between - your  tongue.   For many of us it is just a minor annoyance that might cause a unique - possibly even  interesting - voice.  Or it might cause   annoying discomfort  ranging from  minor  to  severe.  But for voice students and  voice professionals - or someone that uses their voice professionally even if only  for speaking - tension  in the jaw or tongue can be a disaster! 

While I couldn't   carry a tune  if you  put it in a basket with  handles on it, I   have been  told by voice professionals that relaxation of these  muscles is ESSENTIAL to maintaining the needed voice control.  Unfortunately   getting these muscles to relax is often not so easy.  There are many   reasons why these muscles might not be relaxed,  but I will  name just a few here. 

Changes made to the teeth or  "bite" by dental and especially orthodontic treatment,  muscle spasms from  physical  and/or emotional  stresses,  clenching or grinding (bruxism)  habits,  TMJ disorders,  can result in muscle spasms from intense  over-use of these muscles as during periods of intensive  voice training or performing.

It seems to me that  these problems  fall into a "no man's land" when it comes to treatment.   They are sort of in-between regular dentistry, orthodontics, physical therapy, chiropractic, and I'm sure many others... and none of them seem to be  too focused on these problems.  Most often only when  it can be labeled a "TMJ disorder "   will anybody take it seriously - and even then, finding a dentist that is skilled   or even interested in treating it  is a real challenge.

In a general way, such problems do fall under the general, vague heading  of TMJ problems but  may be  more subtle or milder than what is  usually thought of as TMJ. 

To give you a   little  more idea of just one way that  these problems can  develop, consider what happens when  front teeth are protruding as a  child.  Enter the orthodontist.  The front teeth are pulled back.  Sometimes  a couple of teeth are even extracted to make room to move the front ones back.  These actions make the arch smaller.  Like a circle with a  reduced radius.  Well, guess what  has to fit  inside that now smaller arch! Your tongue.  The tongue is a very strong organ almost entirely made of muscle.  It will usually learn to stay back where it was pushed but it may not be real happy about it!

One way  a dentist might try to help is by making a  "bite guard".   Unfortunately, there are many different styles and designs of bite guards.   Most of them  do a  good job of "guarding" teeth from the ravages of clenching and grinding teeth  (bruxism) during sleep, but  most of them do little or nothing to relax the muscles of the jaws and tongue.

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Good news! there is a type of  bite appliance that   can be made that  has a dramatic  affect on the muscles to help them   relax.   I also helps  TMJ problems and bruxism  most of the time.  But the big  difference is that it changes the dynamics of how the   teeth, nerves and muscles work together during the time you are wearing it.   It's smaller than  most bite guards and mostly just fits in the roof of your mouth and often is totally hidden behind your front teeth so it is "invisible".   Normally you would wear it  during sleep and possibly  sometimes during   periods of  daytime heightened stress if you felt the need for it.

It's a simple approach to treating a  complicated problem.  If it works for you  - and it has almost always  helped my patients when I made them one -  then you will feel better and you will notice improved relaxation all around your mouth.  Amazingly, the relaxation affect can potentially  be from the top of your head all the way down your neck, shoulders, and back, down to your pelvis.  That's a lot from a silly little piece of plastic !!!

 

If this sounds interesting and possibly  helpful, come on in and we can talk about it ! Bye.

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More info about the following is available  if you select  "topics".

Cosmetic dentistry is about doing   quality , esthetic dentistry in a way that looks natural to begin with, and furthermore,   can even  improve  one's  attractiveness through techniques such as bonding, bleaching, veneers, caps, implants and more.  It can   be like "instant orthodontics" in correcting  crooked, twisted or misplaced teeth in many instances.  Dark or misshapen teeth can be restored.   Smiles that lack youthful vigor or beauty can be revitalized! See Topics / Info..

Bleaching, veneers, bonding, caps, bridges, and implants  are cosmetic dentistry treatments that are also  discussed in  Cosmetic Dentistry, and more...

Holism in dentistry is an approach to dental treatment, primarily  caring for  patients' health and safety from both a conventional as well as  "alternative healthcare" point of view.   It is sometimes called "biological" dentistry or "biocompatible" dentistry.  In it's fullest sense, I believe it   acknowledges and deals with  the mind, body and spirit of the patient, not just his or her "teeth".  See Topics / Info.....