If you’ve been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and suspect you may have a TMJ problem, addressing the jaw problem could reduce many of your PD symptoms. Since I was treated for my TMJ Disorder (TMD) this year, I feel so much better. Most of my PD symptoms have been reduced, with some eliminated. The best part is that I feel like I have my life back.

I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease five years ago at the age of 51. I initially went to a neurologist just for chronic pain in my lower back and right shoulder. The diagnosis shocked me. But, I imagine we are all shocked with the PD diagnosis. At first my symptoms were mild, but over the course of the next four years increased significantly. By the beginning of this year, I was no longer able to work and felt sick much of the time.

Since being diagnosed in 2009, I’ve searched for complementary treatments. I felt there must be something that could help besides the typical pharmacological treatments. This effort finally paid off when I read of the connection between PD symptoms and TMJ dysfunction. I thoroughly researched the topic, including Parkinson’s Resource Organization’s extensive coverage of both the problem and experts who can help. I called Dr. Brendan Stack, DDS, in Vienna, Virginia, because of his outstanding reputation. He is recognized as one of the premiere experts in the field with over 40 years experience.

My TMJ examination was an eye opener. It was unlike any exam in the past, as Dr. Stack thoroughly investigated my jaw related ailments and conducted a physical exam from the top of my head down to my upper back. My symptoms included clicking jaw sounds, limited mouth opening and sideways deviation, clenching teeth, numerous areas of pain and other symptoms. An MRI was taken of both jaw joints which confirmed the initial diagnosis. Both my right and left TMJs (their articular discs) were dislocated. Articular discs buffer or cushion the jaw bone, or mandible bone, from the skull bone, similar to a spinal disc buffering vertebrae. When the discs are displaced from their normal position, the jaw bone shifts, and associated nerves around and behind the TMJ are compressed and affected.

The treatment involved an oral appliance that repositions the jaw bone forward and downward and back to the healthy position that the discs provided when not dislocated. Dr. Stack fitted me with a Gelb Appliance, which is a mouthpiece worn on the lower teeth and built up on the back molars. Soon I felt better and within a few weeks felt significantly improved. Physically, I now had few cramps or tremors and significantly reduced symptoms of fatigue. I lost the “masked”look and regained facial expression. I became more relaxed, without the look of tension. My walking became more natural and I had more endurance and strength. My fine motor skills, driving ability and rigidity have all clearly improved. Mentally, I think quicker. I am more articulate and speak clearer. I am more cheerful and engage socially much more.

Three months into my TMD treatment, I feel I have my health and my life back. Looking forward, I anticipate additional improvements over the next nine months as further healing occurs and from periodic adjustments to my oral appliance. As a result, I am very optimistic about my future and I feel that many good years are ahead.

If you think there is even the slightest chance you have a TMJ problem, I highly recommend you call Dr. Stack at TMJ AND SLEEP THERAPY, or call one of the other TMD experts who understand how it can cause PD symptoms. There may be a solution for you, but you must take the initiative. In most cases, your neurologist will not be supportive or helpful (even though this is fundamentally a nerve impingement problem). Talk to the experts or their patients to see if TMD treatment will help you. If you have any questions, feel free to email me at

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Updated: August 16, 2017