Osteopathy and the jaw
Treating the jaw is very common in osteopathy. It can be because patients have actual pain in the jaw but the jaw is often involved when treating cases of neck pain, headaches or tinnitus. It can also be important to check the jaw if the patient has some postural dysfunctions.
The strongest muscles of our body are connected to the mandible and are called the masseter, the temporal and the pterygoid. They can therefore put a lot of pressure on the articular disc and on the cranial bones.
As you can see on the picture, these muscles are directly attached on the skull and therefore can very easily cause tension headaches. Tinnitus can also be a symptom of a tensed jaw as the ear unit is right next to it.
Bruxism ('biting' while sleeping) is one of the main reason of jaw tensions.
While it is a normal physiological occurrence on kids between 5 and 10 years old, it is usually a sign of stress on adults.
Osteopathy treatments show very good results on diminishing jaw issues. By treating the jaw, the osteopath eases the pain but the patient also gets a positive feedback from the brain which helps the patient to release his/her stress level.
The jaw and the posture
Here you can see the three main jaw muscles which can be responsible for many symptoms
The jaw can have a significant effect on the neck but also the general posture.
Keep in mind that one of the main postural purposes of the body is to keep our sensors (the eyes) on a horizontal level. This means that everything from the head down will compensate to keep these sensors straight.
When the jaw is dysfunctional or when there is a lack of symmetry, it will directly affect the position of the head which will have a repercussion on the cervical spine. The pictures on the right illustrate this phenomenon very well and you can see the effect of a jaw correction on the position of the head.
Osteopathy is a holistic approach. To help our patients with their problems, we analyse the body as a global unit and try to restore function and alignment as good as possible.
The pictures show how the spine compensates when the jaw is either positioned too far back (left) or too far forward (right).
Before and after treatment photos of a woman who initially has her jaw positioned too far back.