It is calculated that almost 50% of the population presents some functional alteration of the masticatory system, but they are not aware of it. These alterations may be the cause of very diverse discomforts, although the most frequent ones are: referred pain in the ear, neck, back, jaw; limitation in opening and/or closing the mouth; little noises or chafing in the temporo-mandibular joint area (TMJ) (next to the ear) with or without pain, headaches (generally on lateral areas) for which the origins can often not be detected, etc.
Tension, stress and alterations in tooth positions all tend to converge in the origin of this type of pathology. To carry out a correct diagnosis of the exact nature of the problem, it tends to be necessary to use elements such as articulators (which reproduce the way each person’s teeth fit together and their movement), different types of x-rays, computer analyses of the occlusion, etc.
The evaluation of the adjacent structures (muscles, ligaments, position of the intra-articular disc or meniscus) is, on occasions, of major importance in the focus of the treatment. The way that the teeth come into contact with each other may determine the appearance of joint discomfort, above all when opening and closing the mouth, either due to an overload on one side or the other, or due to the provocation of a retruded position of the jaw and therefore of the condyle in the joint space.
The treatment of craneomandibular dysfunctions is more difficult the more chronic the problem, so it is advisable to come to the clinic as soon as the first symptoms have been noticed. The basis of the treatment ranges from re-establishing the balance between muscles, teeth and joints, by means of orthopaedic, orthodontic or prosthetic techniques or via the use of different types of splints, as well as gnathological positioners.
The splints and the gnathological positioners are acrylic apparatus of different textures which are interposed between the teeth (generally at night) and are capable of redirecting, diminishing and redistributing the forces of mastication, relaxing the musculature and protecting the joint (TMJ).
There are interesting and innovative treatments for TMJ disorders, such as for example: [SEE TABLE]