THE TMJ CONNECTION · Parkinson's Resource Organization

THE TMJ CONNECTION

Category: Newsworthy Notes

It is my belief that most movement disorders such as Parkinson’s, Tourette’s, and Dystonia’s are due to a TMJ (temporomandibular joint) problem.

In our office, we screen all of our patients for any underlying jaw joint problem and have found that in most cases, the disc inside the jaw joint has slipped out of place. This slipped disc effectively ‘pinches’ the nerves in the joint and causes them to send strange signals to the brain – hence the tics or shakes. This often occurs in older patients in the form of Parkinson’s as the teeth wear down or are lost which leads to a collapse of the jaw bone into the jaw joint.

In order to determine if the jaw joint (TMJ) is the source of the problem, a thorough examination of the head/neck region including range of motion measurements is done. Then an MRI of the jaw joints is ordered to confirm what we already suspect – a slipped disc is the culprit. We have the MRI done at our local imaging center because they know exactly what we are looking for and have the proper equipment to get the best reading. The reading of the MRI is done by a radiologist with plenty of experience in this field.

If the radiologist finds that the discs are slipped, then we are able to treat the TMJ disorder with a dental appliance that effectively props up the jaw joint into a more open position, which alleviates the pressure on the disc. That is the basic concept with treating TMJ disorders – get the pressure off the disc in the joint.

In many cases, this dental appliance will work extremely well in reducing and eventually eliminating the shakes and tremors, but in some extreme cases, the disc is already too damaged or unstable and surgery may be indicated. In the cases where surgery is needed, it is a relatively simple procedure. The surgeon only requires about 50 minutes to put each of the discs back into proper position. There is no wiring shut of your jaws or bandages on your face. The incision is only one inch long just behind the ear and there is little to no scarring after a couple months. To date, the success of the surgery is above 95%. Success is measured by how effective the disc is put back into position and how much the tremors and shakes have been reduced. This certainly makes more sense that taking drugs!

For more information about Doctors Brown & Stack TMJ, Orthodontics & Sleep Apnea practice, visit the Wellness Village. They have been a member of the Wellness Village since March 2012.

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Updated: August 16, 2017