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What is the Mylohyoid?

By Meshell Powell
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The mylohyoid is one of the muscles found in the head and neck region of the human body. This muscle begins at the mandible, also known as the jawbone. From the mandible, the mylohyoid travels to the hyoid bone between the chin and the neck. The mylohyoid muscle is instrumental to the formation of the floor of the mouth.

The mylohyoid is a flat muscle that is shaped in the form of a triangle. It lies just above the front portion of the digastric muscle. The mylohyoid nerve is a branch of the trigeminal nerve and provides the nerve supply to the mylohyoid muscle.

The function of the mylohyoid is to depress the jawbone while elevating the hyoid bone. The mouth and tongue are also elevated by this muscle. This becomes of particular importance when performing actions such as speaking or swallowing. The mylohyoid muscles on each side work to form a structure similar to a sling. This is what creates the strength of the floor of the mouth, also referred to as the oral cavity.

Temporomandibular joint syndrome, more commonly known as TMJ, is a condition often affecting the mylohyoid. This condition is known for causing moderate to severe pain, particularly in the head, face, and neck. TMJ can be caused by trauma to the area as well as by natural causes, such as arthritis or teeth grinding. Treatments range from the use of a warm compress to being fit with a dental device to prevent clenching of the jaw or teeth grinding. Rarely, surgery may be indicated in order to alleviate the pain.

Myofascial pain syndrome is also known to affect the muscles used for chewing, including the mylohyoid. Myofascial pain tends to affect entire muscle groups, although it can affect a single muscle. In this condition, the fascia, which is a type of connective tissue covering the muscles, becomes compromised. This medical condition is sometimes difficult to accurately diagnose since there is a tendency to develop what is known as referred pain. This means that trigger points are present which can cause pain in areas other than those suffering a direct injury.

Fibromyalgia is yet another condition causing widespread muscle pain. Pain in the face and neck areas is widely reported with this condition. The exact cause of this condition is not known. Therefore, treatment is aimed at relieving individual symptoms. Physical therapy, stress management, and medications are often used to combat the pain caused by this ailment.

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Discussion Comments

By anon953913 — On May 28, 2014

I have started grinding my teeth in my sleep, even after wearing the night guard my dentist made. I have been exhausted and have headaches, but after I had my wisdom teeth removed, it got much worse. Then my my jaw started popping on my right side and protruding into my ear canal, so I ended up with muffled hearing on that side and my ears ring constantly. The symptoms fluctuate with my jaw pain and now my mylohyoid region and my bottom jawbone are always sore. TMJ is no joke!

By Mykol — On Oct 31, 2011

I was involved in a car accident and have never been the same since. My head and neck were affected the most, and I have spent many sessions with a doctor who specializes in myofascial pain.

As a result of this, and years of grinding my teeth when I sleep, I have developed TMJ. I would never have thought that something involving the jaw could be so painful, but it really is.

Every time I open my mouth very far, I have pain. This also affects the way I chew my food and find myself looking for food that is soft and easy to swallow.

This also really affects me when I go to the dentist. I am not able to keep my mouth open for treatments like most people are.

I have been able to keep most of the severe symptoms under control with medication and some physical therapy, but this is something that affects your life more than you would realize.

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