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Why Your Jaw Function Is Crucial to Your Health

Your temporomandibular joints (TMJ) are located just in front of each of your ears. While most have heard of painful jaw problems, these joints affect much more than your ability to chew. They represent an intersection of your airways, neural pathways, posture and your bite. The anatomy of the jaw and its function are incredibly complex, which is why TMJ is often misunderstood and misdiagnosed.

The proper position and development of the jaw joint will influence your:
Woman biting into red apple

  • Autonomic Function (fight or flight and rest or digest)
  • Ability to cope with stress
  • Airway and breathing patterns
  • Detoxification
  • Digestion
  • Hormones
  • Immunity
  • Posture
  • Sleep

The Connection Between Jaw and Body

There are many aspects involved when considering TMJ and how it affects your overall health. The following explains why your jaw joint is essential to consider in the picture of your full body wellbeing.

Jaw position and growth

The size and shape of your jaw will determine how much space your teeth have and the size of the throat and nasal airways. During the first year of life, the jaw grows 50%, with a total of 80-90% growth completed by the time you are 8. The tongue and lips must have the correct position for proper jaw growth, which in turn leads to optimal facial and jaw development, airway space and posture.


Together, your jaws form the lower half of your face and connect the muscles between the shoulder, head and neck. They play a vital role in the control of your head and neck, and therefore your posture, too. Dysfunction in your feet, neck or pelvis can have a negative influence on your jaw.

Neural pathways

Your throat, mouth, jaws and teeth give your brain more sensory input than any other part of the body. Since 83% of your cranial nerves pass through the bones of the skull that are needed for jaw function, TMJ problems can affect your vision, facial sensation and movement, eye movement, balance, hearing, gag reflex, taste, digestion, breathing and cardiac function.


Your jaws can be thought of like a doorway to the airway. The jaw development, then, determines the size of your airway in the nose and throat. If your jaw doesn’t develop properly and is too small, your airway will be, also.


Your jaw joints are supported and balanced by your teeth, which preserve space for your tongue and airway. Your bite and jaw joint stabilise the top vertebra in your spine called the atlas and is the mechanism that self-corrects the balance of the cranial bones.


The process of digestion begins with your jaw. Chewing is the beginning of extracting the nutrients from food that run your body. The muscles in your jaw, neck and throat are essential to swallowing, too.


Your jaw is the seat of emotions, with every feeling including stress and pain visible in your jaw. All the pathways for pain travel through the neurons that are responsible for controlling the primary muscles in the jaw.


The muscles in your jaw, neck, throat and mouth are what allow us to communicate. The quality and clarity of your speech, then, are impacted by the function of your jaw.

Learn More

The team at TMJ Therapy Centre is here to make sure that you experience the benefits of proper jaw function. Contact us today to get the attention you need!


TMJ Therapy Centre | (03) 9804 7454