Disorders of the jaw joints and muscles (‘temporomandibular dysfunction’, or ‘TMD’) can cause a variety of symptoms in the head and neck and affect a large percentage of the population.
Lack of knowledge and education about this condition amongst the medical and dental professions however means that many cases of TMD are misdiagnosed or undiagnosed, causing needless suffering in affected people. TMJ symptoms include:
- Numbness in the fingers and arms
- Difficulty swallowing
- Limited movement of the jaw
- Clicking or grating sounds in the jaw joints
- Locked jaw – closed or open
- Pain behind the eyes
- Neck, shoulder or back pain
- Facial pain
- Unexplained loosening of the teeth
- Ear aches, stuffiness or ringing in the ears
- Sore jaw and jaw pain, especially upon waking
- Noisy sleep due to grinding of teeth
- Worn tooth surfaces
- Broken or chipped teeth
TMJ disorder is often caused by problems with the way the upper and lower teeth mesh together, or the ‘occlusion’. Very often, changes in a patient’s occlusion can affect great reductions in TMJ symptoms.
The diagnosis and treatment of occlusal abnormalities and TMD is often called neuromuscular dentistry. Dr Sauer has studied TMJ and neuromuscular dentistry extensively, and is one of very few dentists in New Zealand to offer diagnosis and treatment of temporomandibular joint disorder and occlusal abnormalities using computerised equipment and surface electro-myography. Correct diagnosis and treatment can often bring a marked improvement to chronic symptoms in the head, neck and jaw.