Do I have TMJ disorder/dysfunction (clinically referred to as TMD)?
TMJ is an abbreviation for the name of the joint, which we all have, and it is named for the bones that articulate together. Your mandible (lower jaw) fits into the base of the Temporal bone in a socket, which is called the Temporomandibular Joint. We all have 2 TMJs.
What is TMJ Disorder?
When people suffer discomfort, it is called TMD. TMD stands for Temporomandibular Disorder. TMJ Disorder is usually a result of an internal derangement in the joint, which is usually one of 3 things: Disc Displacement, Perforation, and Adhesion.
Disc Displacement: Is simply slippage of the cartilaginous disc in the joint. You normally hear a pop or click and it is similar to a slipped disc in your back. Dr. Scott’s mentor in TMJ Disorder diagnosing and treating, Dr. Williamson, refers to it being similar to a “football knee injury” in the joint because it deals with cartilage and ligaments. When the ligaments that hold the disc in place become stretched or torn, the disc becomes loose and slips on and off the mandible (lower jaw) creating a click or pop. When you bite down, the mandible puts pressure in the joint space and the disc slips off, pulling blood vessels and nerves over the condyle which are then “pinched.” In some instances, the ligaments become so stretched or torn that the disc gets caught in front of the condyle and it limits the patient’s ability to open wide. The jaw tends to “lock” in that scenario.
Perforation: Is the second type of internal derangement of the TMJ. The disc or tissues around the disc can have perforations, but it is not frequent.
Adhesion: Is the third type of internal derangement of the TMJ, and is from the disc adhering to the socket. While infrequent also, this would typically involve surgery.
When the jaw joint hurts (like a football knee injury) due to a disc displacement, the muscles around the jaw, face, and neck tighten up to protect the joint and they become painful as well. Those muscles contract due to the motor kinetic reflex as a result of those vessels and nerves being “pinched.”
Please understand is that TMJ disorder is a degenerative disease that slowly but surely progresses from normal function, to disc movement, to disc displacement, to early joint degeneration, and possibly to advanced joint degeneration.
Don’t ignore symptoms or treat this disorder with therapies that treat or mask the symptoms. The disorder will progressively worsen over time and the underlying structures will degenerate.
Training and Credits
Dr. Scott trained under Dr. Euguene Williamson, who developed a technique of jaw repositioning movements and orthotics to treat the disc discplacements through repair and regeneration. These methods aim to recapture the displacement and reduce pressure in the joint on these tissues. Dr. Williamson has taught and researched this method for over 40 years with over 100 publications citing the success of these methods. Williamson’s procedures have been proven clinically, to be over 95% successful non surgically and is based upon clinical experiences and Williamson’s research as reported in professional journals. Dr. Scott also reads and studies topics in TMJ disorders, but mostly credits his mentor and friend, Dr. Eugene Williamson, with the foundation for the treatment modalities he uses to treat patients with TMJ Disorder.