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Dentistry/bite misalignment and TMJ


I have suffered over the years with TMJ pain mainly connected to neck and back issues. I have learned stretches and relaxation methods to help with that pain and had almost eliminated it until recently. I had to have a root canal done and since then my bite has not been the same. I have been in for a couple of re-adjustments since then but still the pain in my jaw continues along with sensitive teeth. I feel like one adjustment leads to another adjustment and I don't know what to do next. I feel like I have "opened a can of worms"! What would you suggest?

Hello Martha,

Thank you for your question.  I am sorry you have been having so much pain after your root canal.

I have recently read articles that one of the TMJ triggers is having your jaw stretched too wide and for too long during a dental procedure.  Do you remember how long you were sitting in the dental chair?

And what do you mean by "adjustments?"  Are you saying that your teeth are being filed or shaped??

Ok, first, I believe there is a good chance that you can regain your original bite.  I would like for you to seek out the help of a dentist that specializes in TMJ.  Most dentists will say that they treat TMJ and can make you an night guard appliance.  But I would like for you to find a dentist whose primary work is treating TMJ cases and has had a lot of practice making night guards.  

Any dentist can take impressions and then send them to a lab to create your night guard.  That's no trick.  What you want is a dentist who is constantly fitting night guards for their patients on a weekly basis. It really is an art form that is a challenge for even the best dentists.  So not to belabor the point any further.....find the right board certified dentist for the job.

Second, the word "adjustments" worries me.  I have had some people describe that to me to mean teeth filing in an attempt to correct a bite.  That is a slippery slope because in all likelihood the teeth filing is an irreversible process with no guarantees that your bite will feel any better.

Third, I have recently purchased an excellent eBook off Amazon called "The TMJ Healing Plan" by Cynthia Peterson.  There is a lot of good insight and helpful information in there, with some specific information about what can be done when your bite is off.  I highly encourage you to order it.....and specifically look for two exercises they mention to help correct your bite....The first exercise is called "Orbiting" and the second exercise is called the "Tongue Waggle."

I think my suggestions should provide you with some encouragement.  Don't hesitate, act quickly to correct your problem.

Thanks again for your question, and let me know how you are progressing.

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Jonathan at PatientBabble


My area of expertise from the patients point of view would be TMJ plus the speech challenges that these jaw and bite problems sometimes represent. Over the years I have seen a multitude of dentists, orthodontists, oral surgeons, speech therapists, neurologists and other health professionals who all had an opinion about my bite problem. I am not a doctor, but would purely be a patients point of view type person. I "get it" when people say they tried to explain to their dentist what their bite problem is and that they are misunderstood. I can listen to people's trials and tribulations and there is a good chance I have been down that road before. I can make suggestions as to what people can do at home, or what questions to ask their doctor or dentist when they visit. ////// I come from a family of dentists. My first house growing up was one of those residential/dentist combination homes and I was around the dental practice all the time. My teeth had always been perfect, and in many respects they still are. I have never had a cavity and my teeth are straight. About 25 years ago, I had my wisdom teeth out and since then my bite has never felt "normal." I have learned a lot over the years as I tried to figure out my problem from the Dentists, Speech Pathologists and assorted doctors that I have visited. I will try and recall information or experiences that may be helpful to you.


Twenty-Five years ago after my wisdom teeth were removed, my bite did not feel right and then had trouble speaking. For whatever reason, the first sensation I remember was not that my bite was off.....but rather that my normal tongue and speech patterns had been impeded. The years of searching for proper treatment has underscored the importance of understanding the relationship between dental and speech methodologies.///// To this end, and to further my research, I recently attended the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Convention (ASHA) in Atlanta. At ASHA I learned about a specialty within Speech Pathology termed “Orofacial Myology”. In laymen's terms Orofacial Myology Disorder (OMD) deals with the establishment of correct functional activities of the tongue, lips and jaw. OMD is a motor speech disorder that impacts the normal flow of speech, chewing or swallowing.///// If you believe that your struggles with your teeth also present speech, chewing or swallowing challenges, you may want to seek out a licensed Speech Language Pathologist.....preferably one that has training with Orofacial Myology Disorder.

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Abridged Version of a Letter I Sent to a Health Care Professional (3/14/13): "..In my early 20's I had my wisdom teeth out. Almost immediately within a few days, something did not feel right in my mouth. I had trouble speaking. When I raised my tongue to try and touch my palate, I felt mostly just teeth. It is very cumbersome to talk and my bite also became a little bit off. If feels almost as if someone put a fork in my mouth and said "now try and speak." Very difficult. My articulation is fine, so to an observer I sound normal. But it takes a monumental effort, so I hate situations like talking on the phone or when somebody asks me to "tell them a story." ..I spent years going to different dentists, who lumped me into their generic version of what they knew about TMJ. They just automatically gravitate to what they have heard about TMJ and assume I am either stressed, or just imagining it. Years later, I look back at all those dentists and doctors and I am amazed at how little they really knew about my condition. I have seen the best dentists, including my dad who is a Orthodontist in New York, to TMJ Dentists in Atlanta and Florida. No one ever suggested that Speech Pathology may be a direction I should explore. ..And I was frustrated by the fact that several MRI's over the years, showed nothing. How could the MRI’s show nothing, and at the same time, I know something does not feel right? I do wear a night guard to sleep in, but it does not fix the trouble that I have when I try to talk. ..I went with a Speech Pathologist friend of mine to the American Speech Language Hearing (ASHA) Convention last October in Atlanta...There was a Speech Pathologist at ASHA who was saying that sometimes when you have your Wisdom Teeth taken out "late" that it could possibly cause damage to the Trigeminal Nerve and surrounding muscles.” POSTSCRIPT: At ASHA, I discovered OROFACIAL MYOLOGY (OMD) which is a specialty in Speech Pathology that addresses Oral Muscular Issues.

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