If you’re into self-care, chances are you stay on top of your dental appointments and book regular facials for your skin and massages to soothe your muscles, but have you ever considered a treatment that checks all three boxes? Introducing…mouth massage, or more technically speaking, buccal massage. Buccal massage is equal parts art and science – it targets the energetic tension hiding in the anatomy of the face (primarily the buccinator muscle) while boosting beauty benefits at the skin’s surface.
Learn the Lingo
Mouth massage is often referred to as buccal massage because a large portion of the inside-the-mouth part works on the buccinator muscle. This major muscle lies under the cheek and plays a significant role in our facial and jaw movements. It also holds a lot of tension and can contribute to jaw and cheek pain when jammed up. Therefore, discussing your medical history and goals with your provider is important. For example, a mouth massage can be customized to target accompanying nasal, lip, and cheek/jaw muscles like the temporalis, masseter, and lateral pterygoid muscles, which help control the jaw.
The Royal Treatment
One of the driving factors in mouth massage hitting the mainstream was when the press found out it was one of Meghan Markel’s favorite beauty treatments. She credits London-based aesthetician Nichola Joss with introducing her to the treatment – Nichola tells People, “It adds vitality to the muscle. It makes it softer but stronger, and obviously, working from the inside of the mouth really addresses the core element of the muscle.” And Meghan is not alone; sources say that Jennifer Lopez, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Kate Moss are also fans of mouth massage. Can’t make it to London? Search the internet and Instagram for how-to videos like this one by @heal.thygoddess.
If you’re receiving a buccal massage from a massage therapist, the inside-the-mouth portion will likely be accompanied by an overall facial and craniosacral massage. Conversely, if it’s with an aesthetician, it will likely follow a more traditional facial cleansing and massage routine. So, what kind of benefits should you expect?
- Sculpted, lifted jawline, and cheeks: lymph movement, circulation, and muscle activation)
- Depuffing and detoxifying: lymphatic drainage
- Glowing skin: increased circulation and healthy blood flow
- Decreased fine lines: increased circulation, intentionally triggered inflammatory response is activated when the muscle is sore – just like after you work out at the gym!
- Less tension: in your jaw and cheeks
- Decreased clenching or grinding: of your teeth
Book the Buccal
Ready to book? Depending on where you live might impact how easily you can find a provider. For example, Shape Magazine says, “You can find the treatment at a spa, med spa, or even doctor’s and dentist offices, but buccal is still limited to predominately metropolitan areas, including hubs like New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Dallas, Paris, and London,” says Babayan — basically where the celebs and fashion is, buccal is.
Like most things in life, mouth massage benefits are temporary. It’s best to look at mouth muscle work just as you would for your body muscle work and your gym routine. Results are cumulative, so you must undergo regular treatments to maintain muscle change and improve symptoms. If you can’t commit to that, another option is FaceGym, which brands itself as a fitness class for your face. In addition, the brand sells tools, products, and in-studio “workouts” to flex and tone the 40+ muscles in your face.
If you struggle with cheek and jaw pain, mouth massage might be the self-care add-on you didn’t know you needed!