Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) is a collective term for a group of symptoms that can appear individually or in combination.
The masticatory system mainly comprises the teeth, the masticatory muscles and the temporomandibular joints (TMJs). They are highly sensitive, complex and extensively interconnected biomechanical functional units of the body. If the biomechanics of the masticatory system are disrupted, this can cause a TMD or make one more likely.
Harmonious interaction between the upper and lower jaw via the temporomandibular joints and masticatory muscles is essential to our wellbeing. If this interaction is disrupted, this can make chewing, speaking, swallowing or using the facial muscles painful. As well as affecting the immediate surrounding areas of the body, a misaligned temporomandibular joint can also negatively impact overall body posture.
The resulting symptoms are thus complex and often present in a way that is hard to explain. So affected patients are often told that the cause of their complaint is psychological and treated accordingly. Or they may be diagnosed as “teeth-grinders” or “bruxers“ – which is equally unhelpful, as purely psychogenic or stress-related teeth-grinding is exceedingly rare. Rather, a biomechanical imbalance in the masticatory system is almost always the cause.
TMD patients are often prescribed physiotherapy, medications (including psychiatric drugs) and mouth guards to protect against teeth-grinding. These may bring temporary relief but do not treat the underlying cause of the problem.
Detecting these disorders in the masticatory system, treating them thoroughly and addressing their causes requires dentistry of the utmost precision and patience, including interdisciplinary collaboration where necessary. Our aim is to enable our patients to live their lives totally symptom-free once again, and without medical aids such as medications and mouth guards.
Even after over 20 years working in this field, we’re always thrilled with the final results when a patient successfully completes the course of treatment.
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