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Temporomandibular Physiological State

Young woman is having toothache

Establishment of a Temporomandibular Physiological State with Neuromuscular Orthosis Treatment Affects Reduction of TMD Symptoms in 313 Patients

Barry C. Cooper, D.D.S.; Israel Kleinberg, Ph.D., D.D.S., D.Sc.

Young woman is having toothacheABSTRACT: The objective of this investigation was to test the hypothesis that alteration of the occlusions of patients suffering from temporomandibular disorders (TMD) to one that is neuromuscularly, rather than anatomically based, would result in reduction or resolution of symptoms that characterize the TMD condition. This hypothesis was proven correct in the present study, where 313 patients with TMD symptoms were examined for neuromuscular dysfunction, using several electronic instruments before and after treatment intervention. Such instrumentation enabled electromyographic (EMG) measurement of the activities of the masticatory muscles during rest and in function, tracking and assessment of various movements of the mandible, and listening for noises made by the TMJ during movement of the mandible. Ultra low frequency and low amplitude, transcutaneous electrical neural stimulation (TENS) of the mandibular division of the trigeminal nerve (V) was used to relax the masticatory muscles and to facilitate location of a physiological rest position for the mandible. TENS also made it possible to select positions of the mandible that were most relaxed above and anterior to the rest position when the mandible was moved in an arc that began at rest position. Once identified, the neuromuscular occlusal position was recorded in the form of a bite registration, which was subsequently used to fabricate a removable mandibular orthotic appliance that could be worn continuously by the patient. Such a device facilitated retention and stabilization of the mandible in its new-found physiological position, which was confirmed by follow up testing. Three months of full-time appliance usage showed that the new therapeutic positions achieved remained intact and were associated with improved resting and functioning activities of the masticatory muscles. Patients reported overwhelming symptom relief, including reduction of headaches and other pain symptoms. Experts consider relief of symptoms as the gold standard for assessment of effectiveness of TMD treatment. It is evident that this outcome has been achieved in this study and that taking patients from a less to a more physiological state is an effective means for reducing or eliminating TMD symptoms, especially those related to pain, most notably, headaches.

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