Unmasking the source of your pain


Pain, dizziness and headaches could all be caused by your bite

By Dr. Stephen Durham

Of all the ways that people feel better when they visit our practice, this is certainly one that gives our team the greatest satisfaction.  Patients walk out a different person.  Well, the same person but a lot happier.

It is estimated that 25% to 30% of people suffer from a misalignment of the jaw and the muscles around it called TMD – temporomandibular disorder.  Possibly two or three times that many people have the disorder and don’t know it yet.

That’s because TMD is “the great pretender.”

It shows up as neck aches, sleep disorders, poor posture, numbness in the shoulders and down the arms, dizziness, a ringing in the ears, clicking or grating in the jaw joints, pain behind the eyes — and headaches, even migraines.

In fact, some studies suggest that more than 92% of persistent headaches are caused by TMD.

When we get to the bottom of that cause, people come to life with less pain, more energy, a sunnier disposition and even a better appearance.  Because fixing TMD can restore facial height, relax the features and make smiling something that just comes more naturally.  When people feel better, they look better, and that is what we see when we treat people with TMD.

The first step is to calm those jaw muscles, using a technique that measures and relaxes them to their normal, resting length.  At that point, we can see your own best bite position with relaxed and healthy muscles.

Then that best bite position is captured, using impression materials.  From that impression a neuromuscular appliance can be crafted, creating a kind of mouthpiece that fits over your lower teeth and helps your jaw into a healthy position.

Using this device as directed, your jaw learns its way back to a healthy position.

No longer unbalanced or over-closed, the jaw plays its vital role in a good head-neck relationship.  Muscles come unstrained.  Nerve feedback from the head and neck to the brain is calmed.  That calms other body systems, too, and the overall effect is less tension and better health.

It’s a shame TMD goes undiagnosed so often because the effect is profound.  A Nobel Prize winner in brain research said that 90% of the brain’s output is devoted to relating the body to gravity.  So misalignment, like TMD, can be a big drain on your outlook, your energy and your brain’s capacity for thinking, operating the body and healing.

Working with our patients to see the end of these troubles, and the beginning of a fuller life, is one of the most rewarding experiences here at our practice.

A recipient of the 2012 Mastership Award from the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), Dr. Stephen Durham is a graduate of Clemson University and the Medical University of South Carolina College of Dental Medicine. He is a Fellow of the Las Vegas Institute (LVI) for Neuromuscular and Cosmetic Dentistry. Dr. Durham practices at Durham Dental at Town Center in Beaufort. For more information, visit his website at www.DrStephenDurham.com or call 843.379.5400.

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