What could have caused your TMD?

Photo by Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash

Many different causes have been identified and discussed within the scientific literature. Hence, TMD is often called a multifactorial disease. But is that true? Or can we name a specific root cause? Contradictions within the medical community are clearly evident to anyone who has been in the field. What is being suggested by one branch, is often being contested by another, and is the exact opposite of what is being suggested by still other third parties.

Parts of dentistry and orthodontistry claim that a genetically induced malocclusion was the main culprit. That means that you would have inherited the problem from your ancestors, like in the typical example of saying someone has “dad’s big teeth” and “mom’s small jaws”. Therefore, these parts of medicine suggest their appliances and procedures such as braces or aligners, or splitting sutures and orthognathic surgery to be the solution. But did your parents or grandparents have your exact same problem? And did you know that here is a branch of alternative dentistry that claims TMD is being caused by wrong prosthodontic or orthodontic work?—They indeed think that an alteration of your bite has caused your TMD. They therefore offer their splints, orthotics and full mouth rehabilitation ––as they call it––with crowns, onlays, or further orthodontic treatments to you.

In contrast to this, other parts of medicine claim that TMD was a psychosocial condition. Patients would grind their teeth, which was the cause for what they call bruxism. They suggest you to just relax, do psychotherapy, biofeedback or physiotherapy, and prescribe you what they call night guards to protect the tooth enamel from clenching. Then again other parts of medicine suggest that there was no identifiable cause at all, and that you would have to simply take large amounts of strong pain medication or even paralyze muscles via botox injections in a quest to eliminate what they call pain memory. But do you want to take opioids and NSAIDs for the rest of your life, eventually become in need of dialysis, and finally of a kidney or liver transplant in the future?

Again, other parts of medicine claim that the problem is in the jaw joints themselves. They suggest to you to do injections or wash outs called arthrocentesis, although there is no evidence to suggest that anyone’s jaw joints were dirty. On the contrary, jaw joints are naturally sterile and should not be opened with needles or other instruments. Often these surgeries lead to bigger surgeries, until you are asked to do a total joint replacement, although these operations are apparently not being done to reduce pain. At least this is what is explicitly written in the manufacturers’ brochures. Also, jaw joints prostheses do not allow you to fully move your jaw, like a natural jaw joint. For instance, you would be unable to jut your jaw forward, and the replacements are prone to fail over time. On top of that, allergies to the materials and other adverse reactions may occur. We don’t want to horrify you by naming names, but we want to suggest much more conservative ways of treatments based on a diagnosis of your root cause.

While each branch of medicine might be correct within the confines of their perspective, our own research suggests that TMD has one deep common root cause that sums up all the others. It is a distinctively altered anatomy with certain traits that are very common amongst sufferers, with individual variations of course. This is due to environmental influence––including that of medical procedures––, and lifestyle. We live our lives mostly indoors, don’t move much, eat soft foods, and often have allergies or breathing problems. Neck problems are very common, and they are intricately linked to TMD. While dental procedures often trigger and even exacerbate TMD, they are most likely not the deepest of deep root causes. It is not just about the bite or the occlusion. It has to do with how your teeth meet for sure, but what about the relationship of your jaws to the skull? How does your skull sit on top of the cervical spine? What about your way of breathing, swallowing and overall posture?

Neither must we simply look at teeth and boney structures, nor do we claim that TMD was solely muscular or nervous in nature. All of these systems are affected but the root cause lays deep down in your health and life history. Let us explore what is your cause, and find out specific treatment options for your problem.

(c) jaw-joint.com 2022

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