Dr. Jerry Farrell on teeth grinding and TMJ
More often than not, the problems that people have with their jaws are orthodontic problems or trauma problems that they’ve had from accidents or sports. And those complicated kinds of problems that show up in your TMJ are also dramatically affecting your neck, your headache, comfort, and they’re, what I call, “functional orthodontic problems.“ You’re not functioning properly,you have mild facial pain and dysfunction, which is the muscle component of head pain. TMJ is simply a term to describe the joint and there’s usually a constellation of problems related to what’s going on with their ears, their muscles, their neuro musculature; they’re miserable. They’re headache patient’s.
You ask a patient in dentistry, “Do you have headaches?“ 9 out of 10 will say no. After two or three minutes of talking to them, you’ll say, “Do you have pain up the back of your neck?““Oh, yeah.““Do you have pain in your ears?““Oh, yeah.“ They don’t even think about telling their dentists about headaches. 90 plus percent of head pain symptoms, which are the biggest reason for going to the physician, are going for head pain. A good 90% of those are muscle tension headaches that are not organic disease that needs to be properly evaluated by a physician.
There’s an enormous opportunity for dentistry to help those people. And again, it gets back to the facial balance thing. Invariably, they have shorter lower thirds that are in forward head posture, and they’ll have all kinds of TMJ problems because when they’re in forward head posture, their jaw’s distalizing, they’re coming off the pillow of their disk, and they’re clicking. But it really relates to the forward head posture and the last thing they really need is to have an orthotic … really to have something put in with no plan about how to handle the complicated challenges of getting them back balanced.
Probably, the premier aesthetic dental institute in the country is the Las Vegas Institute, and they’ve adopted neuromuscular dentistry and myocentric as the basis of how to rebuild things because when you do that, you have plenty of room for beauty, long teeth, gorgeousness—it puts them upright, it’s … and I actually got my fellowship in creating mandibular orthopedics in 1988 and that’s kind of brings full circle our discussion about how that’s impacted my practice for the last 30 years, 37 years.