Neuromuscular dentistry focuses on treating people who are suffering from the painful condition known as Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD). Dr. Lindsey Marshall combines her knowledge and training as an LVI graduate (The Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies) to help her Philadelphia, Main Line, and Ardmore patients overcome the severe and chronic pain that often accompanies TMD.
The term temporomandibular joint (jaw joint) is often abbreviated as TMJ, and that same acronym is also often applied to TMD. That can create some confusion, but we will talk about the jaw joint as TMJ and reserve TMD for the disorder.
What Causes TMD?
When something puts the jaw joints out of alignment, affecting the position and movement of the lower jaw, discomfort and pain can become severe and chronic. The jaw muscles become strained: When you think of how many times we open and close the mouth each day for eating, talking, laughing, yawning, etc., it is not surprising that inflammation would develop.
TMD can be caused suddenly by an accident or injury, such as an auto accident that delivers a blow to the side of the head, or gradually by misaligned teeth preventing the lower jaw from closing comfortably. A tooth grinding or jaw clenching habit continued in sleep can also be a cause.
When the jaw joint is misaligned, the result is malocclusion (a misaligned bite) which can cause extreme pain and discomfort – not just in the jaw itself but in the entire face and head, the neck, and the shoulders. Typical symptoms of TMD that are often misdiagnosed include:
- Migraine-like headaches
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Facial and jaw pain
- Clicking, popping and locking of the jaw
- Tooth pain
- Unexplained wear on the teeth
- Pain and pressure behind the eyes
- Tingling or numbness in the hands
- Depression – because the symptoms are fatiguing and a failure to obtain permanent relief is frustrating
The reason that TMD symptoms are so diverse is that the large trigeminal nerve enervates the entire face and head. It is the fifth cranial nerve, the largest facial nerve, and is both sensory and motor. It has three large branches on each side of the head:
- The ophthalmic nerve – covering the upper nose, eyes, forehead, and crown of the head
- The maxillary nerve – covering the lower nose, cheeks, upper jaw and part of the temples
- The mandibular nerve – covering the lower jaw, part of the temples, and part of the ears
Each branch has sub-branches that carry sensory data to the brain, as well as enabling movement. When the jaw muscles become inflamed, swelling puts pressure on one or more parts of any of these nerves, causing pain in that location. Compression of one part of a nerve can affect other areas served by that nerve; you may feel pain in more than one location.
The Road to Pain Relief
The most common and painful TMD symptom is headaches that seem to the sufferer like migraines. If you have such headaches and have been to several physicians in a fruitless search for permanent pain relief, your headaches may be TMD headaches rather than migraines. Most people, including most doctors, never think of a headache as having a dental cause.
Dr. Marshall is a fully qualified neuromuscular dentist and has invested in the best technology for diagnosing and treating TMD. If you wonder whether you might have TMD, it would be worthwhile to see a neuromuscular dentist to rule it out. If Dr. Marshall finds that you do indeed have a misaligned bite causing your pain, you will be on the road to permanent pain relief.
K-7 Evaluation System
The K-7 Evaluation system allows Dr. Marshall to measure, record and store malocclusion and jaw joint data to accurately diagnose TMD. During your visit, you wear lightweight equipment over the head or around the neck to transmit information to the K-7 computer.
Using this technology allows Dr. Marshall can obtain information on:
- Jaw muscle electrical activity
- Jaw muscle movement
- Jaw joint sounds
Dr. Marshall employs the latest technology and procedures at her Philadelphia office to treat TMD and realign your bite by placing your jaw into its optimal position. If you would like to be evaluated for TMD, please do not hesitate to contact us today to schedule a personal neuromuscular dentistry consultation and learn how we can help you.