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Physiology of Occlusion

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TMD affects more than just the jaw joint

image-physiology-of-occlusion-iccmoTMD or temporomandibular dysfunction has been described as the “great impostor” in both the medical and dental community. 

The growing field of study and practice in neuromuscular dentistry has allowed clinicians the opportunity to help a growing number of patients that were unable to obtain alleviation of their clinical problems previously with health care providers. 

We must understand that the complex stomatognathic system is comprised of the central nervous system in conjunction with the dentition, masticatory muscles and temporomandibular jaw joints all functioning in harmony with one another.

In addition, the postural system of the body must be able to properly support and maintain a healthy body with proper airway and cranio-cervical homeostasis.

Everything is connected

The importance of a physiologic occlusion must consider five basic principles of occlusion in order to properly diagnose and comprehensively treat a patient from initial stabilization to final long-term successful treatment objectives.  Masticatory muscle dysfunction and the relationship to occlusal disease must also involve consideration for upper airway obstruction and deformities. 

Symptoms of temporal headaches, limited jaw opening, clicking or popping of jaw joints, clenching and bruxing habits, neck and shoulder soreness, and sleep apnea are but a few of the symptoms associated with TMD.

Help more patients

helpThe study of neuromuscular dentistry allows the clinician to understand orthopaedic principles and physiologic occlusion concepts more comprehensively than traditional dental models.  By using computerized diagnostic modalities, muscle and postural responses of the mandible allow objective knowledge to help dentists treat and help more patients successfully that would not normally be possible otherwise.

The recognition of musculoskeletal occlusal signs and symptoms allows for proper diagnosis of chronic pain patients.  Identifying an optimal starting point with physiologic rest and obtaining stability at a terminal contact position using a fixed or removable orthotic appliance is utilized in the initial stabilization phase. 

Removing all afferent and efferent noxious proprioceptive stimuli of occlusion and objectively measuring all muscle and postural responses of the mandible will allow the dentist to remove all harmful muscle torques and strains that relate to the health or dysfunction of the trigeminal system.

In summary, the importance of a physiologic occlusion cannot be over-emphasized in treating TMD patients.

Gain knowledge, experience, and be part of a community

The International College of Cranio-Mandibular Orthopedics (I.C.C.M.O) is an organization committed to sharing of knowledge and experience in treating patients with cranio-mandibular and cranio cervical problems. 

For clinicians interested in treating TMD patients with chronic problems, becoming a member of ICCMO is highly recommended and necessary in order to obtain the most current information in the complex and rapidly growing field of neuromuscular dentistry.


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