It is thought that over 20% of the population suffer symptoms of TMD which require treatment. These range from grinding the teeth, headache, neck and back pain to migraine and tinnitus.
Causal diagnosis is made more difficult by the wide range of different symptoms throughout the body, which at first glance do not seem related to mastication.
In the case of pain and symptoms for which no cause can be found, it is therefore advisable to consult a dentist specialising in functional diagnostics and temporomandibular joint therapy. This occlusion therapist should also work with other specialists and co-therapists such as physiotherapists and osteopaths to enable optimal and interdisciplinary treatment of this complex of symptoms.
Many patients have consulted a veritable army of doctors trying to find the cause of their symptoms – usually without success. But in many cases various types of pain and symptoms can be attributed to temporomandibular disorder (TMD), a functional disorder of the masticatory system.
The basis for TMD is muscular tension in the masticatory, head or facial muscles. The main risk factors are malocclusion and psycho-emotional stress – “grinding of the teeth.”
Malocclusion is dysfunction in the interaction between the teeth of the upper and lower jaws – leading to a “bad bite.”
Besides genetic causes, the main trigger is unnatural wearing of the teeth due to mostly nocturnal grinding (bruxism), which can in turn be caused or intensified by stress. Even slight changes to the masticatory apparatus can lead to considerable dysfunction. This is understandable considering the fact that a biting force of up to 400-800 N can occur in the masticatory centre by nocturnal clenching and grinding lasting approx. 15-20 mins.
But missing teeth, badly fitting prostheses or insufficient orthodontic treatment could also be responsible for the fact that teeth no longer fit together properly.
Malocclusion leads to inappropriate load on the temporomandibular joint with unnaturally high strain and tension on the surrounding muscles. Constant inappropriate load can lead to uncoordinated muscle activity by the central nervous system due to neuromuscular mechanisms (muscular hyperactivity) and thus also to pain and symptoms in other areas of the musculoskeletal system.
Early diagnosis and treatment are important since dysfunction of the teeth and jaw joints can progress causing symptoms to become chronic.
A functional analysis helps identify the malocclusion and jaw joint malfunction. The aim is restoration of a physiological biting position, i.e. correct interaction of the teeth.
This is made possible by a special plastic maxillary bite guard, the DROS® splint.
In the first phase the splint leads to muscle relaxation thus relieving the incorrect contact of the teeth.
In the second phase it guides the lower jaw back into its physiological position. Once the right position is achieved, any additional treatment necessary is given from the new biting position.
Physiological occlusion is generally achieved after approx. 7 weeks of treatment with the splint. The splint is worn mostly at night and 1x per week it is checked and adjusted by the DROS® therapist.
The standardised therapy concept results in shorter treatment steps, convincing long-term results and considerable cost reductions for patients and health insurers alike. It forms the basis for long-term stabilisation of correct occlusion through subsequent prosthetic or orthodontic measures, if required.
The costs for the approx. seven-week long diagnostic splint therapy concept are around EUR 3.430,72.
Leading health insurers have already recognised the therapy concept.
The DROS® concept is used only by certified dentists, the DROS® therapists. Preparation of DROS® splints is done only by certified dental labs.
asymptomatic patients - in the case of bruxism, clenching and grinding of the teeth, crunching of the jaw joint, unclear dental occlusion, loss of occlusal vertical dimension, new prosthesis, new prostheses on implants and patients without dentition.
patients with symptoms - in the case of TMD symptoms such as difficulty in opening the mouth, jaw and muscular pain, jaw joint pain, jaw joint arthrosis, facial and head pain, neck, shoulder and back pain, ringing in the ears or tinnitus.
Early treatment is important since the malocclusion and strain on the temporomandibular joint can progress, thus considerably reducing the chances of cure.
Do you have toothache, paradontosis and sensitive teeth?
Do you clench or grind your teeth or do you have shortened teeth?
Do you feel that something about your bite is just not right?
Do you have pain in your jaw or jaw joint, perhaps a clicking or rubbing noise?
Is it sometimes difficult to open your mouth wide?
Do you suffer from headaches or migraine?
Do you suffer from ringing in the ears or tinnitus?
Do you have tension in your neck muscles?
Do you have pain in your neck, shoulders or back?
Do you suffer from sleep disorders, tiredness or dizziness?
The symptoms mentioned above may not necessarily be TMD. Therefore this test is not an alternative to seeking medical advice from an appropriate specialist.
If however you have answered yes to several of these questions, it would be advisable to consult a dentist in your area who is a specialist in TMD (DROS® therapist) in order to ascertain whether TMD may be a possible cause.