Learning with laughter

TMD – Temporomandibular Disorder

Many Patients suffering form face head neck and / or back pain had to learn to live with the pain. Some patients have subjected hearing loss, ringing of the ears, dizziness, ear pain and a feeling of fullness and pressure in the ears. When competent clinicians can find no organic basis for these symptoms, they often suggest that it might be psychogenic. There is a syndrome known as TMD (also known as TMJ pain dysfunction syndrome) that would appear totally unrelated to the symptoms. Yet, correction of this syndrome may alleviate many medical symptoms such as acute or chronic diseases of the ear, nose, throat, head, neck, shoulders and back. The syndrome is medical and dental related.

Misdiagnosis being the rule rather than the exception of TMD, it patients wander, or are sent from specialists to specialists, depending on the location of the pain. Symptoms focusing on the ear, the sinuses, or swallowing problems are referred to the Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist. Needless to say, as the wanderers are told and retold that there seems to be no organic basis for their pain, their anxiety mounts. Many suspect a brain tumour when physical findings remains obstinately in abeyance. The cause is considered psychosgenic. The patient may turn to drugs to alleviate the symptoms. The lower jaw (Mandible) has a relationship to the upper jaw (Maxilla). When is this relationship is altered, the muscles of mastication (chewing muscles) go into spasm. This causes the muscles that have the same nerve innervation to also go into spasm. The resulting stresses may radiate throughout the head, neck and even involve the back. The pain may be consistent or intermittent, lasting minutes, hours, days or even years. Many Patients describe the pain as a migraine headache. Eventually a patient may demonstrate clicking, grating, snapping or popping sounds in the joint. The lower jaw may overclosed (too close to the upper jaw), and/or distally displaced (too far back in the joint or socket). In addition, the lower jaw may deviate to one side. Due to interfering tooth cusps (points on chewing surfaces of the teeth that do not meet properly with the opposing teeth) The cause is multi-faceted, i.e. loss of teeth, poor alignment of teeth, natural wear of teeth, grinding or clenching the teeth during the night or day, poor tongue position, muscle imbalance between the tongue and facial muscles, chronic mouth breathing and osteoarthritis.

There is a tendency for many patients to clench and / or grind their teeth in response to unconscious stress creating muscular dysfunction. Clenching and grinding usually occurs during sleep; however, it may occur during a daily stressful experience. Subconscious stress must be controlled for successful resolution for clenching and grinding of teeth.

Posture has an effect on the relationship of the lower jaw to the cranium (skull) resulting in a malocclusion (improper bite). If body symmetry is not within normal limits physical therapy may be necessary to correct body symmetry during treatment. Airway obstruction must be cleared as it will result in constant mouth breathing. Allergy is a primary cause of chronic mouth breathing. This usually results in an improper bite (malocclusion).