TMJ and the Cranio-Dental Approach

Too many people suffer from temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD or TMJ Disorders). It could be as minor as a popping jaw or inability to open or close your mouth all the way. To as severe as clenching at night, during the day, resulting in jaw or face pain, tinnitus, vertigo, headaches, eye pains, and so much more.

The standard approach by the general dentist is a night guard that stops the teeth from contacting. Unfortunately, this Band-Aid must be replaced every 6 months to a year depending on how fast you chew through it. And even then, it still will not correct the reason as to WHY you are clenching.

First, let’s define this clenching at night and then you can understand the WHY. It is called Nocturnal Bruxism (Night grinding/clenching). Now, the reasons why this happens. One of the main reasons is simply, your bite is off and your brain is trying to recalibrate. When this is the case you must seek a dentist/orthodontist that understands how to correctly calibrate your bite (or occlusion).

Another reason is because you are under physiological stress and your clenching is a way to destress the cranium by inducing a mechanical pump into the sutural system which is not functioning optimally. The sutural system is the functional location of movement the cranium requires to pump the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) throughout the skull and brain to provide nutrients, neurotransmitters and remove metabolic waste.

A Craniopath, not to be confused with a craniosacral therapist, understands that the TMJ is a hinge joint that requires equal slide and movement on both sides. The jaw sits inside the temporal bone. If the temporal bone (the bone your ear sits on) is misaligned in a rotation forward or backward it will cause disturbance of the TMJ and create unequal movement or that swing upon opening or closing you are familiar with. There is also a disc (similar to in your spine) in the TMJ. If the disc is displaced and or restricted in movement it can result in significant pain with a tendency towards your jaw locking open or closed. There are specific muscles responsible for trying to self-correct, however depending upon the severity and chronicity they fail to do so and will continue to get tighter and tighter. When the proper muscles are released, the cranial bones are in proper alignment, and all cranial nerves that are compressed under the soft tissue and bony structures all of the pain will go away. The key is the next step which was mentioned previously. Getting proper dental care to correct the bite/occlusion. There are a significant number of cases that do not require any dental intervention once the cranium is in balance and the TMJ is smoothly gliding with full symmetric opening and closing. However, more complex cases will require a multimodal approach to have an efficient recovery.

If you would like more information from a Craniopath regarding your condition, call 732-747-0083 or visit