Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ and TMD)

Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ disorders) occur as a result of problems with the jaw, jaw joint and surrounding facial muscles that control chewing and moving the jaw. These disorders are also referred to as TMJ syndrome, TMJ dysfunction or temporomandibular disorders (TMD).

What is the temporomandibular joint?

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the hinge joint that connects the lower jaw (mandible) to the temporal bone of the skull, which is immediately in front of the ear on each side of your head. The joints are flexible, allowing the jaw to move smoothly up and down and side to side and enabling you to talk, chew and yawn. Muscles attached to and surrounding the jaw joint control the position and movement of the jaw.

Experience over some 20 years of practice and seeing very many patients suffering from all kinds of illnesses it is my calculated conclusion that a majority of illnesses like ME/CFS, MS, FM have a lot to do with TMJ dysfunction rather than anyither cause.. Please read all the information on this website and follow the many threads on the Symmetry forum.

A majority of patients coming for treatment have previously been diagnosed into many illnesses and syndromes.

A TMJ dysfunction check up at the outset of any illness is imperative for an optimal outcome and before your problem becomes chronic.

TMJ pain and tooth grinding occur because the patients’ jaw does not sit happily in the joint which articulates with the skull. It is the consequence of a physical asymmetry in the jaws and teeth and the mismatch of the upper and lower jaw relationships. It is neither caused by “stress” nor is it due to some other “mental” cause.

In fact, experience shows that most pains, organic disturbances and mental symptoms are a consequence of this asymmetry.

The diagnosis of TMD is generally based on the presence of some characteristic clinical signs and symptoms:

  • Clicking of the joints. Often no clicking is discernible. There are electronic devices available which can accurately depict any jaw joint disturbances.
  • Deviation upon opening and closing the mouth. Here again, often no deviation is seen.
  • Limitation in opening the mouth and again often it is not apparent.
  • Tooth clenching or grinding during sleep. Many patients show wear on their lower incisors but are totally unaware of any tooth grinding.

In many patients the problem is present without the patient realising that there is any problem with the joint. It can however, be ascertained by the presence of many other factors:

Pain on the palpation of certain muscles:

  • The lateral pterygoid muscle: This muscle can be palpated using your index finger and running it inside your mouth along the upper molar teeth deep upwards and backwards. Usually one side will be found to be much more painful than the other.
  • The sternomastoid muscle: This muscle is painful at its insertion point under the mastoid process just behind the ear. Again one side will be more painful than the other.
  • The trapezius and other suboccipital muscles:
  • Often a patient will complain of shoulder or arm pain and these muscle will be found to be very stiff and painful especially at the base of the skull and over the shoulder. Other muscles like the Masseter are often puffed out giving the patient a very square or a moon face appearance.

Trigeminal

The Trigeminal nerve: The simplest way to look at the ramifications of an asymmetry around the jaw joints is to consider the trigeminal nerve which is the main nerve around the teeth and jaws and supplies 60% of the afferent input to the brain and upon this afferentation the output of our brain is determined. Imagine all the signals going to the brain saying that something is wrong with the mouth, teeth and jaws.

Tooth grinding is often the consequence - not the cause of TMJ dysfunction.

The ramifications of jaw asymmetry spiral down the body affecting organ function and skeletal function with pain and symptoms arising anywhere and everywhere.

Many of the organic symptoms get lumbered into various syndromes like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibro Myalgia Syndrome and Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Raynaud's Syndrome. Rest assured that largely, none of these descriptions are legitimate any longer.

These are mostly resolvable illnesses as long as one concentrates on the correction of the asymmetries.

Illnesses resulting from TMJD and syndromes are not "Overlapping Conditions" as described by some.

These supposed co-morbid conditions are a consequence of jaw asymmetry.

These signs and symptoms including the absence of patient discernible symptoms are a key to realising that the Temporomandibular asymmetry is behind the ailment of the patient. The symptoms, as you study this Web site, could be as remote as pain in a foot and yet the jaw and the Atlas are usually at the centre of the origin of these remote symptoms.

To find out how your TMJ dysfunction may be causing your symptoms please:

  • Call us for an appointment.
  • Register to complete our copyrighted online Questionnaire. (Cost £29.00) Learn more