It is inevitable that the stress and tension of life often contributes to temperomandibular joint disorders (TMD), however trauma or even “routine” dental procedures may lead to what Dr. Greg Goddard calls the “Overlooked Diagnosis”1.
The problem is that a TMD may not directly reveal itself. The TMD may show up as:
- Tension headaches particularly in the temples but just as easily elsewhere in the head.
- Limitation of jaw movements ranging from a locked jaw in an open or closed position to a grating, clicking or popping jaw joint.
- The experience of having your head “in a vice”.
- Grinding one’s teeth at night that a dentist may address with a bite guard for nighttime use or the accelerated wear and tear on tooth fillings, dental appliances or the increased risk of cracking or splitting teeth.
- Facial, neck, shoulder and low back pains.
- Singing or speaking voice fatigue leading to vocal cord strain.
If you suspect a jaw disorder, you might want to consider receiving manual therapy from a health-care professional who is experienced in using bodywork principles and techniques developed by cranial osteopaths and bodyworkers.
Recently a business owner came to see me concerning a locked jaw. For the previous two or three weeks he had been unable to open his mouth wide enough to put in a spoon. Besides the pain, he ended up with a very limited diet, disturbed sleep and an aggravated dental condition of the gums. His concerned dentist sent him to a series of dental specialists, one of whom decided to refer him to me while another dentist used such vigorous examination procedures that the gentleman’s condition was actually aggravated.
After his first visit with me, the patient had enough relief in order to finally be able to fit a spoon in his mouth. After several visits not only was his mouth opening back to normal, but his neck was more flexible and his posture more balanced. This gentleman had gone through a particularly severe episode of the temperomandibular joint disorder.
As a healthcare professional trained in osteopathic techniques I have a good awareness of the strong positive potential to improve the symmetry of body posture and movement. I can use gentle manual therapy on the joints of the skull, the roof of the mouth, the upper neck joints, the tongue, and throat to help balance out postural malalignments. The relief of having physical distortions released from the bones and soft tissues surrounding the brain and spinal cord benefits the whole body.
Should you be experiencing a set of physical problems related to the preceding list ask your dentist or physician to recommend CranioSacral Therapy or Cranial Osteopathy. Canada has very few Osteopathic physicians. However a small percentage of Canadian physical therapists like myself and other health-care practitioners have incorporated the intricate work of cranial osteopathy into our practices. Such terms as as CranioSacral Therapy, Neuromuscular Release Therapy, CranioManidibular Therapy and Cranial Osteopathy, to name a few, offer some reassurance that we will:
- Use gentle techniques
- Work inside the mouth
- Work with the total body posture.
Your efforts will be rewarded with benefits to your dental as well as general health.
1. Goddard, Greg, D.D.S. TMJ: The Jaw Connection – The Overlooked Diagnosis.