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TMJ: Temperomandibular Joint and Pain

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Tension headaches, the most common of all headache types, afflicts 75% of all headache sufferers.  According to the American Council for Headaches, 90% of all adults have had at least one tension headache.  Tension headaches are usually a steady ache rather than a throbbing pain and affect both sides of the head.  Many times people under stress will clench or grind their teeth, which is frequently the result of a misaligned bite.  So the tension headache is almost always accompanied by spasms of the muscles which help to open and close the jaw.

The jaw or temperomandibular joint (TMJ) is the most dynamic joint in the entire body. The genius Dr. George Goodheart liked to teach doctors that a huge percentage of the brain is dedicated solely to the maintenance of the TMJ. So if the joint is not working properly, one can suffer from many and serious problems, not the least of which is chronic pain.  Some symptoms of temperomandibular dysfunction (TMD) include dizziness, headaches, migraines, facial pain, tooth pain, pain down the arms into the fingers, lack of jaw opening, pain upon jaw movement, ringing in the ears, grinding of the teeth and chronic neck and backache.

A bad TMJ can even cause problems with chewing and thinking. It can put you into a chronic "fog," making it difficult to think or make decisions and, of course, if the jaw joint is not properly hinged, the damage to the teeth can be immense.  Since the site of the temporomandibular joint is at the intersection of three major energy meridians relating to the stomach, endocrine system and small intestine, relief of TMD can spark a tremendous healing process in the whole body, relieving symptoms like stomach problems, chest pains and cold extremities.

If you have head and neck pains that will not go away no matter what you do and TMD plays a part in the cause of your problems, you could be faced with many misdiagnoses and a lifetime of pain killers which eventually wreck your stomach or kidneys. So how can you tell if TMD is the source of your problems?

Simple Test

The late Dr. W. B. May, a brilliant dentist, used to say that you can diagnose your own TMJ for about 10 cents! All you need is a little red dental bite wax. Pick a time when a friend can help you and you have at least half an hour to relax. Place the wax in hot water until it softens. Then make two small 1/4" to 1/2" square pillows out of the wax. Now sit down, relax, and have your partner place the wax pillows directly on your lower right and lower left first molars.

Then bring your upper jaw down until it meets the wax and relax a second. Next, swallow completely, allowing your jaw joint to press your teeth naturally into the wax. Do not force anything. Simply allow your swallow to position your jaw and teeth in the wax. The reason for this is simple -- the most physiologically normal position of the jaw is achieved during swallowing. So you are in effect finding your normal jaw position.

Allow a few minutes for the wax pillows to harden, then either leave them in place, or replace them if you have carefully removed them. Allow your upper teeth to rest on the pillows (this will almost always leave your bite more open in the front). Finally sit back and relax for 10 to 30 minutes and see if your pain symptoms are relieved or disappear. If any of them are improved or eliminated you have just made the profound 10 cent diagnose of TMJ problems.

What to Do

If your diagnosis is positive, you need to wear a splint or bite separator to reposition your bite toward normal. Call around to dentists to see who does this in your area. Often a dentist will work with a kinesiologist when doing this work. In this manner muscles can be tested as the splint is designed, worn, and adjusted over time. If TMJ is the cause of your problems, this treatment is aimed at the cause. It is powerful and can be profound.

Some TMJ resists correction because of underlying osteoporosis. In all cases, a protocol of raw bone supplements is indicated. The same is true of carpal tunnel syndrome. For these, Dr. Bruce West of Health Alert always uses Bio-Dent at a dose of six daily, and Biost at a dose of three daily for a year. Both products are produced by Progressive Labs.


PS:  According to Mark A. Breiner, DDS, author of Whole-Body Dentistry, not all TMD is remedied by correcting the bite and sometimes the improvement is limited. He discovered that the "difficult" cases often occurred in patients who had mercury amalgam fillings with high electrical readings. His hypothesis is that these metals were emitting enough electricity in the oral cavity to interfere with proper muscle functioning and with the local energy meridians.

Sure enough, when the fillings were removed, many patients experienced tremendous relief. Remarkably, much of the time, removal of the metals in the mouth was all that was required to alleviate the symptoms of TMD. However, patients that had traditional orthodontics with extraction of teeth were often more of a problem and frequently needed orthodontic re-treatment which he discusses in his book. He also discusses trigeminal neuralgia (TN) being caused by cavitations and proposes a simple test on page 127.

One of the things I like about Dr. Breiner's book is the short dental detective stories he tells. One is of a woman with migraines so severe she was sometimes bedridden for days. He found her bite was misaligned and all her chewing muscles in extreme acute spasm. A simple appliance to correct the bite and reshaping of the teeth were all that was needed. She has been fine for the past 15 years.

 

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