1. Alan has completed the new Pain Recovery Program. To read or share it, use this updated link: https://www.tmswiki.org/forum/painrecovery/
    Dismiss Notice

Can TMJ issues be structural?

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by danielle, Jun 28, 2018.

  1. danielle

    danielle Peer Supporter

    I went to a new holistic dentist recently, to get some fillings repaired (cracked from my many years of TMJ night grinding). We talked about my TMJ causing the wear & cracks. He noticed my overbite and said he’s pretty confident that my TMJ clenching, grinding & pain is because of my bite. My front teeth don't touch when I bite down. He said this is a common cause of my issues and thought remedying this fact (through different possible solutions including super expensive mouth reconstruction to fix bite) would greatly help my pain. I left there thinking maybe the TMJ wasn't TMS after all.

    But, my headaches etc. did get worse after that appointment, which may have been a TMS response to finding out "something was really wrong with me"... Also the mind-body tools do at least temporarily reduce the tension & pain. I do know that tension is a huge part of the pain, which is at least in part connected to suppressed emotions. I am now confused about the structural component due to this dentist’s confidence. I was wondering though if it might be one of those classic TMS things where some people who have the overbite/front teeth not touching - clench and grind and have pain, while others with the same structural issue don’t. And that some who get structural fixes might feel better (maybe placebo?) and others won’t?

    I know Sarno mentioned TMJ as a form of TMS, but I'm not sure if that's always true or not. Or maybe that it's part TMS but might be part structural?

    Thanks for any thoughts about this!

    ps doing some research on the wiki, Sarno did briefly mention dental abnormalities being the likely result and not cause of TMS in the relevant muscles...
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2018
  2. Kalo

    Kalo Well known member

    Hi Danielle,

    I don't know if I can asnwer your question regarding TMJ, but, here is what I know.

    Two months ago, I was chewing gum and my left side of my jaw locked and when I tried to open my mouth, POP, and jaw shifting.

    It scared me sooooo bad...The pain was bad at the beginning.

    I am now two months into it and my jaw still POPS, and shifts when I yawn or open wide....There is a muscle spasms as well....I can eat but my left side is tender. I also here what is called crepis (grinding) sound when I chew...

    Okay, I am SCARED to hell of going for MRI's and such because it is stated that the shifting and popping is a sign that my disc may of become misaligned. I already know I have arthritis in my jaw but never had any problems until gum chewing TWO months ago. BTW, I have chewed gum all my life and never had this problem.

    If you go on the TMJ.org (Whatever you do don't read forum) but this organization has questions & answer site. They claim that and I quote, therapies such as Injection, braces or expensive guards to change the overbite to correct TMJ, DO NOT WORK. They have done tons of research and also they claim that SURGERY fails. There is no scientific proof that anything works. This is TMJ.org a non profit organization.

    I have also read some of the stories that woman who had there disc replaced suffered more pain and mulitiple surgeries to correct the problem and were still in massive pain...

    TMJ.org philiosphy is LESS IS MORE....

    TMJ.org also state and I quote, there are people who have jaw abnormalities such as disc are misaligned that have NO PAIN, NO CRACKING, POPPING, and no problem chewing...It is NORMAL for them, and it goes on to saying, they don't understand why half the majority of people have abnormalities with NO PROBLEM...

    Does this not sound like what Dr. Sarno was talking about??? Kind of like herniated disc, etc...No pain.

    I was still not convinced and so, I emailed, Georgie Oldfield (being that she is a physiotherapist and study with Dr. Sarno) She was so kind to answer my email and I hope if she is reading this she won't mind me mentioning her..

    Here email to me:

    As a Physiotherapist I have worked with many people with TMJ disorder and this has always been blamed on a physical cause. I remember using a form of Bowen therapy and they blamed almost all conditions on the TMJ not being inline. I therefore began testing all my patients' jaws and realised every patient had clicking or clunking of their jaw, yet it didn't determine whether they got better.

    Since starting this work finally realised that the jaw was just like the back or neck etc and can be affected by tension in the soft tissue, which then affects how the joints track on movement. If the brain targets a soft tissue as a result of stress, then this can cause tension or even laxity, which absolutely will affect the way a joint moves, whether that's a knee, neck or jaw, resulting in popping, clicking etc.

    2 days before my TMJ got activated I was under SO MUCH STRESS....I have exerpience a death in my family, and recently lost my job and was treated poorly...

    I can't tell you whether therapy would work....Maybe someone else can chime in...But judging from what Georgie has seen and worked with it....As well as the info TMJ.org themselves think....Maybe you would just be wasting your money...

    Last edited: Jun 28, 2018
    danielle, birder and Lainey like this.
  3. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle


    My TMS manifests as TMJ (and trigeminal neuralgia). In the early days, just shy of 20 years ago, I first saw a dentist who told me I clenched my teeth and that this was the cause of my pain. I was fitted for a mouthguard that didn't help at all. Over the years I tried other mouthguards but none helped. I finally saw a different dentist who confidently asserted he could remedy the problem through a procedure called equilibration which essentially involves filing down the proud tips of teeth to ameleriote the effects of pressure. The fact that my top and bottom teeth don't and have never rested atop one another was lost on him.

    It was an expensive and entirely pointless procedure. I wish I had never bothered but I was desperate, not the least because this whole business played havoc with my trigeminal nerve. The only positive that came out of this experience was confirmation that my facial and neck muscles were tied in triggerpoint knots. I would later learn how these are a consequence of TMS. (@Gigalos has written some great posts on triggerpoints and TMS).

    I came to see that TMJ truly is TMS and that the clenching and grinding is entirely due to tension and stress. The structural aspect is a red herring. Once you calm your body~mind, you calm the insane pressure exerted by the jaw.

    The jaw is the main place I hold tension. It is the main place most people hold anger that goes unexpressed or that is chronically felt. It is classic TMS. For me it manifests most brutally when I am stressed out of my mind and yet it eases to nothing when my heart and mind are at peace. To this end it is a great touchstone for those times my rage to soothe ratio is out of balance.

    I've penned quite a bit about all this during my time here but in a nutshell my best advice is that you must do whatever you can to resolve any stressful situations in your life, maintain a gentle exercise program to manage tension levels (I swim and practice Yin Yoga), and become finely attuned to the way you hold tension in your jaw and get good at letting it go.

    The other thing I found helped was a hypnotic CD by a woman called Denise Lynch which is lovely and relaxing to listen to at bedtime. I bought mine on Amazon but here is the link to her site:

    http://sam-rogers-s7nh.squarespace.com/product/freedom-from-tmj (Freedom From TMJ)

    I notice Kalo has posted as I have been writing this and I have to endorse how fruitless surgery is. I consider this to be comparable to back fusion surgery in that it is a go-to procedure for people who don't know any better. Thank god you do possess knowledge of TMS. All you need do now is look to soothing yourself and exploring the many positive posts regarding TMJ here at the forum.

    Take good care,

    Plum x
    danielle, birder and Lainey like this.
  4. Lainey

    Lainey Well known member

    I agree Plum and Kalo.
    Adding my 2 cents. . . .TMS does not mean that there is not a structural abnormality (so to speak) but rather that the site of this visible misalignment or deformity or pinched nerve or bone-on-bone joint problem or (fill in the blank with the deformity in question) is where your mind chooses to focus when there are other, rage-making issues you are currently (or sometimes years back) involved with. The mind sends its own message to this 'deformed' part which creates PAIN, thus distracting us (your fellow TMS believers) from the issues at hand. We cannot show our anger, scream our screams or beat up our nemesis. This is our struggle. We are good people, living in a non-perfect world, and sometimes it beats us back.
    You can get through this. Just yesterday I had a blissful, surprising, short block of time where my remaining TMS pain (my hip/thigh area) went totally AWAY. This has been a long haul for me, but it did make me very OPTIMISTIC that I too am on the right path.
    JohnWinner, danielle, Lizzy and 2 others like this.
  5. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    Music to my ears dear Lainey. This is wonderful confirmation that you are on the right path. Let your faith rest here and watch the healing ebb and flow as it will. The breaking up of long held pain patterns is one of the most powerful signs of recovery. Your comment calls this thread to mind which may benefit @danielle.

    danielle, read this and the accompanying link and see if it has any resonance for you. Read down to Jason's comment where he discusses "phantom bite syndrome" which should give you some very interesting food for thought.

    http://www.tmswiki.org/forum/threads/a-tmj-flare-on-top-of-pelvic-pain-issues.13062/ (A TMJ Flare on top of pelvic pain issues.)

    Plum x
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2018
    danielle and Lainey like this.
  6. Lainey

    Lainey Well known member

    Thank you Plum for the boost of confidence in my healing process. So tedious, yet the small window of no pain was so great for me.

    I read the link regarding the connection between jaw/hip and it did resonate with me. Although I do not have jaw issues, nor have I had any, I have certainly had hip issues for years. The happy baby pose is not something I can do (at least currently), but I would be curious about other suggestions. Should I 'exercise' my jaw area - you understand, tit for tat? Partly joking, but what do you think?

    So enjoy your posts.

    plum likes this.
  7. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    I think there is merit in the consideration Lainey. This morning I did a yin yoga class for the throat chakra which involved mostly neck and shoulder work (with some hips to balance). For you my suggestion would be to tend towards general upper body work as opposed to jaw-specific because that seems like a more relaxed, playful approach.

    I've done quite a bit of lower body yin in the last three or four years and I have found it beneficial for my face and jaw. I've also found hip work makes any upper body stuff more enjoyable as I tend to dislike it very much. I didn't enjoy the throat chakra class as much as others but I do understand the philosophy behind facing and embracing the poses we find challenging. After the chakra class I followed up with some lower and then mid to upper body yin and feel much, much better for it.

    The aspect of the yin chakra classes I like most is that Kassandra incorporates affirmations associated symbolically with those body parts. I wept like a baby doing the root and sacral classes but the higher ones haven't affected me so profoundly. These are insights I shall muse and journal on. So yes, I do believe there is the potential for a strong healing trade-off and if nothing else it eases the focus on the hurty places a bit. It feels good to sink into parts of the body that are open and more at ease. I find it balancing.

    I'm not great with the happy baby pose either. Last time I did it my hubby joked "coach parties welcome". He got a cushion in the muff for that one but he did make me laugh and laughter is probably the very best yoga of all.

    Love to you my dear one x
    Lainey likes this.
  8. Lainey

    Lainey Well known member

    Thank you Plum
    I will look toward some upper body exercises, etc.
    To clarify on my earlier post, the happy baby pose is something I currently CANNOT do. ha! Although I believe you understood this.
    Good day to you.
    plum likes this.
  9. Lainey

    Lainey Well known member

    Too early in the morn for me. I realized that my first post was actually stating my physical capacity correctly.
    I need to sign out I think.
    plum likes this.
  10. Rosebud

    Rosebud Peer Supporter

    The first time I did Happy Baby Pose, I spontaneously started to giggle, and so did another student. The teacher laughed, and said, yes! Happy babies giggle!
    plum likes this.
  11. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    Bless you. I'm a Night Owl and my brain speaks only Jabberwocky before noon.
  12. danielle

    danielle Peer Supporter

    Kalo thank you SO MUCH for your time and thoughts! Your quotes from the tmj.org site were critical for me to read. I didn't go on those sites because of the usual reasons of avoiding pain forums, but I can't believe how relevant those comments are! They really helped me see the dentist's suggestions in a new light. And yes it does sound totally the same as the other TMS stuff Sarno comments on, about how structural abnormalities are often there without the pain. I don't know why I was thinking TMJ was different, but I just was.

    The email from that physiotherapist is also priceless. I might email her with another question.

    Much appreciated!
    plum likes this.
  13. danielle

    danielle Peer Supporter

    Plum, thank you so much. This is super helpful. I'm so sorry to hear that you had to go through that fruitless, expensive procedure that sounded so promising. It really helps me in considering (and probably ignoring) my dentist's advice.

    I will look into Gigalos's posts. Thanks.

    Over the last week I've become more and more convinced that my TMJ is TMS, and this thread really helped. For some reason even though all the "structural red herring" stuff makes complete sense to me about the rest of the body, this one seemed special somehow – maybe because I'd been so unsuccessful with the TMS approach to it up until now. I think what's probably going on is that the amount of feelings being suppressed by clenching and grinding are so vast, that the whole thing seemed too big to tackle and seemed like it had to be something else entirely. If someone has some acute episode of shooting pain right when a major life stress happens, it's easy to catch on to the game. But if it's a constant, long-term thing, well I really was wondering!!

    I can totally see how my TMJ could be a great indicator of my ease-to-soothe ratio. I love everything you're saying, and it's helping inspire me to stay on this track.

    I don't know if what the dentist recommended could be considered "surgery" or not? – just a lot of onlays & crowns including extending some teeth, to very complicatedly get the bite to fit better. But regardless, a very complicated and very expensive procedure that probably wouldn't help much... my muscles would probably pull my bite out of alignment again after all that!!

    Thanks again.
    Lainey and plum like this.
  14. danielle

    danielle Peer Supporter

    Thank you Lainey, that is so encouraging. I am starting to feel more hope about the issue than I have in a long time. I really appreciate the perspective.
  15. danielle

    danielle Peer Supporter

    Brilliant. Especially appreciated this line: "There are people who have terrible bites and have no pain, yet people whose mouths look perfectly fine yet have debilitating TMJ pain." That's kind of exactly what I was looking for, The literature on this phenomenon seems quite scant compared to the stuff on back pain that I was in a lot of doubt, but gathering the perspectives from y'all who can relate is really helping!
    plum likes this.
  16. danielle

    danielle Peer Supporter

    OMG Plum thanks so much, this is revolutionary for me. I'm reading an excellent article about the topic:

    http://portlandtmjclinic.com/for-doctors/occlusion-current-concepts (The Portland TMJ Clinic - Occlusion: Current Concepts)

    The article is scientific enough and has scientific references, but is written for laypeople so it's the perfect level of intelligible for me... and OK, this is my new favorite term for TMS, which is a synonym for phantom bite: "monosymptomatic hypochondriacal psychosis" Sounds a bit extreme, but I guess that kind of brings it home, lol. [Though to my credit, it's my dentist who is trying to convince me that my bite is the issue...] Here's a good snippit from the page:

    However, in spite of these good reasons to expect a connection between TMJ disorders and occlusion, researchers have been unable to find one.39-40 A few occlusal parameters (deep overbite, anterior openbite, loss of posterior support, and unilateral cross-bite) show weak correlations with TMJ disorders at extreme values; but most occlusal parameters show no correlation with any functional condition.
    AND, wow, the article is describing my proposed treatment of bioesthetics (adding a bunch of material to try and give me a perfect bite), and why it's likely a load of *(&$. Goes longer but here's the highlight for me (bolding is mine):

    However, Lee's hypothesis about the role of occlusion in nocturnal bruxism has no basis. Research has shown that nocturnal bruxism is a sleep behavior, usually associated with microarousals following increased sympathetic activity, and it reflects no particular occlusal condition. It cannot be caused by occlusal factors or eliminated by occlusal treatment.107-108
    !!! :wideyed:

    And the FINAL KICKER: after all this time of considering whether my overbite and front teeth not touching (only back teeth touch when I bite down) are related to my clenching, grinding & pain, I was just now discussing this with my husband, who I hadn't somehow explained the proposed treatment to before, and he said "I have an overbite, my front teeth don't touch [only his back teeth touch when he bites down], and I have no problem with jaw tension." (And he has no pain issues either.) :eek:

    So there you go folks, I'm convinced my TMJ is TMS.
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2018
    plum and Lainey like this.
  17. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle


    I'm delighted!

    I love these TMS epiphanies because they beautifully demonstrate the moment the curtain is pulled back displaying The Wizard of Oz and all his tricks, (and that article pretty much defined the yellowbrick road).

    All you need do now is step into the peaceful garden of healing, sink your roots into the soft, safe ground and blossom under the warmth and radiance of the sun.

    Much love to you sweerheart.

    Plum x
    danielle likes this.
  18. karinabrown

    karinabrown Well known member

    Always strange to me that a dentist would claim teeth not touching ‘ eachother suddenly are THE pain problem. Bet they where like that for years without pain ?
    When my pain missery started : i was 45.. some specialist ‘ claimed it was all from my leg lenght difference.
    After the took a xray and really messured the bone: found out it was there my whole life .. never had footpain / butpain etc before
    Then suddenly they said ‘this must be corrected ‘ heellift etc (very bad idea )
    So structural stuff like that is always
    pretty useless as an explanation
    Luckily i found the website painsience.com
    where there is plenty of evidence of that
    and ofcourse found this great site

    But sadly the mind is a strange organ : lately gotten a lot of proof my pains come from stress and emotions
    but still this does not calm me down
    still scares me,
    Still do not get why i get depressed + anxiety + fear+ pain at the same time
    Its not a ‘distraction ‘ that way..?
    This is still the big question
    falling into the same ‘trap’
    Just put a line from Alan gordon on my phone :’ do not wait for it to pass. get back to life and then it will pass’
    And this is absolute true : i did that once and it worked
    but now relapsing and
    This is the problem again : i freez and start this fearing, reading , Avoiding
    And ruminating again
    danielle likes this.
  19. Robyn84

    Robyn84 New Member

    Just popping in to say that I used to have terrible tmj pain. I would get migraines, jaw pain etc. And I was always so scared. I would sit there and move my jaw around and listen to the sounds it made. I would feel all the muscle knots. After I overcame tms for my back, the tmj stuff went too. That being said -
    it still pops and cracks and feels a bit misaligned - but the pain is gone. I still clench and have cracked a tooth in the process - that pain was something that required fixing - but the rest of it disappeared. I do wear a mouth guard to prevent more cracking, but am no longer worried about a perfect bite. Good luck!
    danielle likes this.
  20. danielle

    danielle Peer Supporter

    Thanks Robyn! Love hearing success stories.

Share This Page