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Physiotherapy for temporomandibular joint disorders

If muscle or joint dysfunction occurs in the temporomandibular joint, this is referred to as craniomandibular dysfunction or CMD for short.
Malocclusions or incorrect loading of the jaw can have serious effects on the entire body – on a physical and even psychological level. The goal of physiotherapy for TMJ disorders is to relieve you of the discomfort through precise analysis and in cooperation with a physiotherapist.

Why does the jaw need physiotherapy?

The complex system of our body consisting of bones, muscles and tendons interacts with each other. Misalignments of the teeth and incorrect loading of the jaw (craniomandibular dysfunctions or CMD for short) thus have an enormous influence on the entire body and vice versa. In the individually varying types of dysfunctions, misalignments of the teeth are mostly the reason for complaints. The various findings, from crossbite to overbite or midline deviation to open bite, not only take the shine off your smile, and not only damage the teeth themselves - which alone can result in expensive dentures. With a force of up to 800 Nm, i.e., a force that would be capable of moving 80 kilograms, the masseter muscle is the strongest in our body. This vividly illustrates the enormous influence that incorrect positions and postures can have on the entire body. Quite simply, stress can cause the widespread bruxism (grinding or clenching). If the interaction of our jaws is disturbed, this manifests itself in the following possible symptoms: from teeth grinding and cracking of the jaw joints to headaches and jaw pain, hardening of the cheeks or a reduced opening of the mouth, the complaints can extend to tension in the neck and shoulders or back pain or to dizziness or even tinnitus. A bad posture of the jaw can, in direct connection to the listed complaints, lead to bad posture of the body, the pelvis, the legs, the shoulders or the back.

Forms of treatment

A comprehensive anamnesis and detailed examination are always the starting point. In the first tests, the aim is to identify the causes and consequences of the muscular problems of the jaw in order to define an appropriate form of therapy based on this. The standard procedure here is to insert cotton rolls (cotton roll test) into the relaxed mouth for several minutes and then perform certain movements of the jaw to determine disturbances in the patient's closing and chewing behavior. In addition, the interaction of the jaw and the rest of the body must be taken into account. Previous diseases as well as an external physiotherapeutic examination of the musculoskeletal system are therefore essential elements in order to work out an individually adapted therapy. Coordination between the dentist and the physiotherapist is correspondingly important and requires a constant exchange of information in order to relieve you of your pain and make you smile again. Whereas the dentist is primarily called upon to select a suitable dental splint, the physiotherapist's task is to support the body on a muscular level by means of targeted training to combat the pain.

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