TMJ and Dental Dstress Disorders
The focus of integrative dental health is not just your teeth and gums, but with the entire functional system that allows you to chew, swallow, speak, sing, kiss, or yawn, smile – basically anything you do with your mouth and facial muscles. Specifically, that system includes the teeth, as well as the jaw joints used to open and close your mouth and all muscles of the face neck and the dura mater (fibrous sheet covering the scalp). The position of the teeth and tongue affects the function of the joints and muscles of the face head and neck. The orofacial neuromuscular program is designed to restore a balanced relationship within the neuromuscular component of face, jaw and its relationship to how the head and the neck.
Most cases of misalignment are the result of an overall tooth position that requires the lower jaw to retract back into the face to make the molars fit together for chewing.
Genetics can sometimes play a role in overall tooth position, but often a misalignment bite and jaws will begin with childhood allergies that initiate a habit of mouth-breathing, or orthodontics and dental restorations that don’t take the muscles and joint position into account. Missing teeth can cause the jaw to shift if the missing teeth are not replaced promptly after extraction. Some neuromuscular conditions which cause spasms in the muscles of the spine, neck and face for example; MS, Parkinson, whiplash injury, systemic diseases, osteoarthritis, and any other conditions that because spasms can result in torquing of the dura mater (fibrous membrane covering the brain and the spinal cord and lining the inner surface of the skull). All facials and neck muscles due constant spasms.
In an ideal system, the teeth should hit solidly and evenly in the back but not touch in the front unless you are moving the lower jaw forward to bite into something like an apple or sandwich.
The large cheek muscles drive the chewing action and the TMJs, or jaw joints, should swing freely through the process. Misaligned teeth force the lower jaw backward; the cheek muscles are foreshortened and unable to fire correctly, requiring other muscles to try and take over. As the lower jaw moves further back into the face, the TMJ often becomes compressed. The cartilage disc that should move freely with the lower jaw as it opens and closes may even become displaced and slowly begin to change shape over time. Clicking, popping, locking, joint pain, headaches, and even ear or eye pain can often be the result of a compressed joint and compromised muscles of face and neck.