After direct and prolonged therapeutic touch is applied to the jaw, women often ask why they were never told about this treatment before.
Now let be clear, I am in awe of dentists and am incredibly grateful for people who care for our dental needs. But for soft tissue dysfunction, you need a soft tissue therapist.
Intra-oral manual therapy applied to the jaw--or "jaw massage"--isn't new. But like most forms of direct physical medicine, it has been ignored in the standard model of medical care. Medical providers may not know it exists, may be skeptical about anything that is not an injectable drug, and unfortunately, there is no incentive to take a serious look-- or an intuitive look-- at something not billable in the provider's own office setting.
That being said, after doing this work for almost 20 years, for the first time ever, I am receiving emails from women saying their dentists recommended jaw massage. What these dentists are doing is revolutionary and has the power to change more than just the lives of their individual patients.
Our society is in need of dynamic and connected healthcare. Our bodies are meant to receive therapeutic touch. When our bodies receive direct therapeutic touch, they produce their own chemical reactions. Inflammation is moved out of the local area, nerves communicate a new sense of safety to the brain, muscles relax, and TMJ health becomes possible.
But the jaw needs more than just outside touch. Women need to become aware of why they have jaw tension, they need to know how emotional tension affects the jaw, and they need to become aware of when stress is overwhelming their bodies, when their jaw is clenching, when their pelvic floor is tightening, and in other words, when their entire body is being affected.
The jaw is a loving messenger, telling women that something needs to change. It is not controversial for me to say that our medical culture developed to treat the messenger and not the root cause of pain issues, emotional or physical. Not only does the jaw benefit from the exploration of emotional stress, but it is not an isolated physical structure. You cannot simply inject the jaw, or even try to change the mechanics of the jaw, without also giving therapeutic assessment and treatment to the head, neck, shoulders, and anything down the body's mechanical chain.
So what would happen if more dentists started telling women to seek holistic treatment for jaw pain? Women who receive holistic care have holistic outcomes. Women who acknowledge how emotional stress is affecting their jaw can make changes that affect the heart muscle. Patients who understand that jaw pain needs dynamic treatment can work on their structural health in other ways, lessening the potential for cervical disc disease and other negative outcomes.
With each individual patient who is told their pain needs more than just a simplistic injection, we move closer to a healthier world of mind-body connection and empowered, flourishing women.
Peace & Love,
*Author Tara Lee Clasen is a manual massage therapist specializing in women's health and pain conditions related to the pelvic floor, neck, jaw & shoulder. She also trained in clinical Ayurveda and has authored a book on Ayurveda called The Elemental Woman.