TMJ, or as dentists call it TMD (TMJ Dysfunction) is responsible for an astonishing array of symptoms in our patients these days. From the simple clenching and grinding (or “bruxing”) causing pain in our facial muscles and joints, to poor sleep, migraines, and even poor posture.
Never before has it been so well understood. With the correct treatment, years of pain can often be relieved.
In the past the only treatment available was a nightguard. This plastic appliance that fit over the teeth helped protect the teeth from the incredible forces our jaw muscles can produce. The only problem with the traditional nightguard treatment was that patients would still grind their teeth. The teeth themselves may be protected from breaking but the symptoms associated with dysfunctional muscles are all still there.
Now, instead of guessing where muscles are relaxed, advances in technology allow us to record the electrical activity. This can help find a position to place the bite where the muscles are calm. Helping to support this position with an orthotic will allow the muscles to relax for the first time and truly let the TMJ heal.
Take a look at some of these records in one of our recent patients.
Here are the EMGs (a record of the electrical activity in muscles) showing this patient at rest (the left half of the image), and with her teeth lightly touching (right half). Just to simply get ready to bite, her muscles are already working HARD. And they haven’t even had to go to work yet! It is the biggest indication that the bite is causing the symptoms.
Now, here is the same patient after we’ve put an orthotic on her teeth. Remember, this allows the bite to be positioned in a much healthier position.
Seeing data like this, it becomes so obvious why the bite can wreak havoc on the head & neck when it isn’t positioned properly. Without the data though, it is just a guessing game.
Fortunately for patients in pain, these treatments can literally be lifesavers.