Temporo-Mandibular-Joint problems (often called TMJ have plagued mankind since the beginning of modern dentistry. The intense pain and tension involved with TMJ disorders are debilitating and frustrating. Often the patients are treated for years by the medical profession with the use of drugs to dull or numb the senses.
“This typical approach utilizing medication only without first attempting to find the possible source of the problem is ludicrous. I see this everyday!” says Dr. Burcham. “Those folks have resigned themselves to the fact that this is just a part of their life.”
Many reasons exist for the TMJ to begin a life-altering downhill spiral:
- Accidental injury involving the head and neck.
- Orthodontic treatment involving tooth removal. (common)
- Poorly balanced dental restoratives. Crowns and fillings.
FACTOID: It may sound incredible, but 75% of Dr. Burcham’s patients that suffer from long-standing TMJ disorders have serious balance discrepancies in their bite or chewing relationships. Most have had a history of orthodontics. There is no home for their bite to settle in peace.
“This is actually good to find,” according to Dr. Burcham. “For predictably those that suffer from tension headaches or migranes weekly can expect a vast reduction in frequency and severity with simple treatment. Bite/occlusal guards are good but they are like a band aid… they mask over and not address the true source of the problem”.
A BALANCED APPROACH
Dr Burcham refers to himself as a “Balance Man.” Once the TMJ problems related to bite imbalance are identified, several treatment modalities can be implemented:
- Equilibration: This tedious but effective adjustment addresses interferences in normal function of tooth to tooth, upper to lower. It can be small, …or looming as in the case when new crowns are placed with little or no attention to the sliding envelope (movement patterns) of the jaw. These protrusions lead to nighttime grinding and the body’s natural attempt to rid itself of the intruding cusp or interference. Often orthodontic movement will set a tooth against tooth that physiologically were never meant to interreact.
- Bite guard therapy: This is self explanitory and it has its uses, however, the new bite guard should be adjusted so that it does not introduce equally damaging interferences and delivers harmony to the jaw relationship.
FACTOID: The natural tooth-jaw relationship is a miracle and it is critical to preserve harmony. Imagine a perfectly balanced Swiss watch. As little as a grain of sand can create total dysfunction. The jaw/cranial relationship is sacred, and a million times more complex.