As a young child I was plagued with this condition to the point of waking up in the morning with my mouth stuck in a partially opened position and not being able to open or close it without great pain.
I am fairly sure that my condition was the result of blunt trauma to the mouth and jaw as a small child(accidental), although this condition can occur congenitally as well.I feel that TMJS is not just incidental, but also a time relative overuse injury resulting from functional imbalance within the tempromandibular musculoskeletal system.
Let’s say for example: multiple teeth on one side of the mouth develop cavities which become so progressed that they require extraction and the patient cannot afford replacement(which might often be the case). At this point we might have the opportunity for TMJS to evolve over extended periods of time without restoration of the missing teeth.
Hypothesis: If, the normal human musculo-skeletal system includes 2 of every muscle/bone structure to function in a bilateral or equal manner…Then, could it be suggested that, when part of the human structure is removed or added to, there becomes an augmented or diminished functionality of each side’s musculoskeletal function relative to what is removed or added?
My theory is: When part of the human structure is removed from one side only, the body’s control system, more specifically, the pain and position sensors in concert with the nerve impulses to and from the brain, help to produce compensating muscular actions relative to pain load and consideration of Center of Gravity. More simply stated…the body doesn’t like to hurt or be off balance:)
Over a period of time without structural correction this could cause overuse injury, inflammation, adhesions between muscle, tendon and fascia and ultimately uneven wearing of the bones and joint structures. In this case, the tempromandibular joints.
Owing to the muscle structure of the tempromandibular joints, there can be an abundance of normal /abnormal influence on jaw articulation. NOTE: any musculoskeletal challenge on either side of the body, from the bottom of the foot to the base of the skull, can create jaw articulation problems over long periods of time if not corrected. Everything is connected:)
Surgery could be needed if: If you have been ignoring this condition for a number of years hoping it would just go away…it won’t. By this time, not only could there be muscle hyper-contractions with adhesions, but also, there may be significant abnormal wearing of the hyaline cartilage discs of the joints themselves.
There are 2 things which can alter the path to surgery: A good neuromuscular therapist can provide work, which involves moist heat, friction techniques and ice therapy to the tempromandibular muscles to include the masseter, Buccinator and lateral pterygoids inside and outside of the mouth. He/She should be wearing surgical gloves for this treatment. They can then provide strain/counter-strain techniques which will activate the golgi tendon organs of these muscles, providing further release of this structure.
A Dentist should be the next step: after the TM joint muscles are relaxed and bilateral,(equal length on both sides, the next step is to have your dentist examine you for proper occlusion of your teeth. They(and only they), are able to make minor occlusion adjustments by reshaping specific points of the teeth which are causing occlusion challenges.
After this, there are osteopathic exercises that you can perform yourself, such as: placing 1/2 of a flat toothpick between the upper and lower front middle teeth and opening then closing your mouth focusing your articulation so the toothpick ends touch.
Many dental offices are already beginning to include neuromuscular therapists in their practices…Their are dentists now who do the neuromuscular work them selves (right on). Then there are those dentists who utilize technical devices and surgery to force a correction. I personally feel that, the least invasive treatments, with the highest percent of success would be my first choice.
In my next article I will share with you, what, in my opinion would seem to be correct for the treatment methods for TMJS. As with every opinion, it is up to you to determine how valid this information is for your own needs.
Thanks for reading. As is with everything I write about, this information is just my opinion. You will have to weigh it out for yourself:)
Namaste, Steve Lynch, LMT, AAS/Holistic Health, CTE, Trainer