Dental Occlusal Therapy and TMJ Relief by:Dr John Hardman
Dental Occlusal therapy is a treatment for chronic headache and pain from the area around the jaw joint and often extending into the back of the neck. It is often misnamed "tension headache" and may be worse in the morning. Most commonly the symptoms are treated, and not the cause. It may be mild to severe and because it is improperly diagnosed, sufferers in desperation, travel the circuit of neurologists, psychologists, psychiatrists, osteopaths and chiropractors, with little if any success.
Cardinal signs and indicators to the diagnosis of this condition (Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome or Disturbance) may include a marked jaw "click" or "clunk" on opening, tenderness over the joint capsule and soreness internally in the muscles adjacent the joint. Occasionally partners complain of "tooth grinding" or "bruxing" during the night. The cause is jaw misalignment and this in turn is the result of an inherent orthodontic problem which has not been recognized as a condition which should be treated by a dentist. Treatment is active or passive; active orthodontic treatment in most cases is not feasible as this is a problem of later life, where teeth may also have been lost over time. The treatment of choice is a dental splint : a rigid plastic flat occlusal plate similar in appearance to a sports mouthguard which is adjusted by the dentist so that the upper or lower teeth bite evenly on it without guiding the jaw muscles into stretch or cramp.
The greater majority of patients find they only need to wear their splint overnight to relieve their symptoms. It is possible with some patients to utilize the splint to diagnose the tooth interferences which are causing the grinding problems and or the muscular cramps . This treatment is called Occlusal Equilibration and results in a permanent cure for selected cases. At Complete Family Dental we would undertake an average of two cases per month for occlusal therapy and Two or three appointments are required.
About the author
Dr John Hardman is one of Sydneys Leading Dentists