A TMJ speech disorder can be more than a mouthful
TMJ disorder, often abbreviated as TMD or sometimes just TMJ, is arguably one of the most misunderstood disorders in medicine. The two temporomandibular joints we have are responsible for all jaw and mouth movements.
Considering how much work these joints have to do, it is not surprising that many people, about 35 million, suffer from some type of TMJ symptoms at one time or another. TMJ can cause pain in your head, neck, eyes, ears or throat.
TMJ can also affect:
TMJ is related to health issues ranging from sleep apnea to poor posture, and dealing with TMJ symptoms can be frustrating. When TMJ causes speech problems, it can be embarrassing and affect everything from your job to your relationships.
Give me a break!
Speaking is one of the primary actions that engages the temporomandibular joints. The TMJ lies between the skull and the jaw. It allows your jaws to open and close and move from side to side. The TMJ gets a workout throughout the day and even when we sleep.Think of all the things we do that require our jaws: speaking, eating, yawning. Even while asleep, we may breath through our mouth, snore or grind our teeth. The single most important function is keeping our airway open.
Your TMJ rarely gets a rest. From the time you are born, our TM joints work to allow smooth jaw movement without pain. As the years go by, there is a very good chance that something will go wrong with one or both of the joints, which leads to less smooth jaw movement and very often, pain.
A slippery slope
TMJ problems can be the result of an accident or a blow to the face or head, but very often, people experience TMJ symptoms when nothing out of the ordinary has happened. TMJ problems can happen from simply living and using your jaw normally. The disk that cushions the joints can become displaced or eroded, leaving the joints without shock absorption and protection. A TMJ problem can occur in only one of the joints, or both. Even if only one joint has a problem the function has changed in both. Each TMJoint affects the other during function.
If you start experiencing minor TMJ symptoms, such as slight pain when you chew, you will probably, without realizing it, start to move your jaws in a different way to alleviate the discomfort. This abnormal jaw movement only leads to more problems. The first problems are usually inside the TMJoints (internal derangements) or in the muscles and fascia surrounding the joint (myofascial pain and dysfunction).
Speak up would you?
When TMJ becomes more serious, it can have a noticeable effect on your speech. This may be because you have become accustomed to moving your mouth differently than you used to, and you may find that your voice sounds different, that you have slurred speech or that you produce more or less saliva than usual when you speak.
TMJ can also affect your teeth, which in turn, can affect your speech. TMJ can affect your voice indirectly by causing various problems in your mouth and jaws. An unusual but horrible TMJ problem is a medial disc displacement that impinges on the Trigeminal Nerve as it exite the brain through the foramen oval. Patients unfortunate enough to have this problem speak without moving their jaw at all to avoid intense pain.
Find your voice
TMJ symptoms can be masked with pain relievers, and, for many people, jaw exercises, relaxation techniques or breathing exercises can help. But, if your TMJ is caused by a fundamental or structural problem with your teeth, or jaws, physiologic TMJ treatment will probably be needed to address the cause of the problem. Tackling the symptoms won’t bring long lasting relief.
Dr Shapira takes a three pronged approach to treating TMJ disorders:
Dr. Shapira brings physiological health back to your jaw through jaw relaxation, physical or manual therapy and the use of a Diagnostic Physiologic Orthotic to allow healing. Ideally during Phase 1 all or most of the pain is eliminated or managed and the muscles and joints are allowed to heal to a physiologically healthy state.
Is all about stabilization, stopping the problem from reoccurring giving you long term relief. Treatments at this stage reshapes your bite through long term orthotics or orthodontics, or repairs or replaces missing or damaged teeth through dental restorations or what’s know as a smile rejuvenation. There’s often a bonus to this phase – better looking teeth and a great smile. Patients often look younger and healthier after reconstruction, long term orthotics or Epigenetic Orthodontics with the DNA Appliance.
Is the step we aim to avoid. This is the most invasive phase and is only necessary in the most difficult cases. Injections, surgery or what we call anti-aging dentistry are the treatments provided in this phase. Dr Shapira believes in avoiding invasive joint therapy whenever possible.
Where will your treatment take you? Come in for a consultation and find out.