TMJ Associated Medical Disorders

TMJ Associated Medical Disorders

tmj x-ray

abnormal tmj

Multiple research studies have shown that TMJ/ jaw dysfunction is associated with a large number of comorbidities.  Alread Fonder, DDS in his book The Dental Physician (1976) had about two pages of tmj associated medical disorders that he found to routinely disappear once the bite was corrected.  Many studies have demonstrated that TMJ is associated with very high medical utilization rates (i.e. tmj occurs in conjunction with a very large number of medical conditions occurring at  a very high rate) . Yet, TMJ is seldom suspected by the physician or examined for when a patient develops multiple medical conditions.

The following conditions are ones that I personally have developed a TMJ linkage through my clinical research.  Clinical experience as well as multiple studies have shown that these diseases often respond positively to jaw alignment  therapy.  Medical literature indicates that it is by way of jaw dysfunction elevating substance P levels that many of these conditions are induced.

The following disorders are some of the more common clinically encountered TMJ associated medical disorders, but many less common ones exist.

29 Responses to TMJ Associated Medical Disorders

  1. Pingback: More Research, More Doctors (b/c I love them so much), More Diagnoses, and most of all: More Hope | Dare 2 Dream Your Future

  2. Kristi says:

    What is the connection/ information for trigeminal neuralgia? It’s not on this website. Please respond.

  3. Right now I am suffering with an extreme case of Visual Snow (And many other visual snow symptoms). I am wondering if that is linked to TMJ.

    • Dr. Jennings says:

      It is quite possible that visual snow is caused by bite dysfunction since it correlates with so many other TMJ related conditions (tinnitus, migraine, optic neuritis, MS, etc). With bite dysfunction the trigeminal nerve is over excited, which supplies innervation to the eye, and hence is the cause of lots of ocular disorders. The trigeminal is a significant modulator of hearing, and it would be also be of vision. Dr. J

  4. Carol Logan says:

    I am so happy to have found your site with so much helpful information. I have known that I have TMJ since age 21 (now 46). I have been experiencing symptoms of Parkinson’s lately. In paying more attention (yoga for TMJ/relaxation, posture) over the past two weeks to my TMJ the tremors and slowness have almost gone away. My doctor wants me to see a neurologist for Parkinson’s diagnosis. I want to make sure I approach this in the best way possible. I haven’t seen a dentist in a while for the TMJ. I am hoping you could possibly recommend someone in the PA/NJ area who is willing to address my situation the way you would? Thank you either way since I have found such help in reading your site.

    • Dr. Jennings says:

      The best person on the East Coast is Brendan Stack, Vienna, Virginia. I would contact his office to see who he might recommend in NJ.

  5. Do you have anyone doing your work in the Chicago/Northwest Indiana area?
    Thank you.

  6. Janine Rickard says:

    Hello Dr Jennings,

    I’m reading that resting tongue position and swallowing habits very strongly affect mouth structure becuase resting tongue pressure applies constant small pressure (like orthodontic braces, thereby moving the teeth and bones) and that since we apparently swallow thousands of times a day, improper tongue thrusting applies a deleterious pressure as well.

    So what is the ideal resting position for the tongue- plastered or “sucked up” against the roof of the mouth seems to be consisently referred to but the exact position is hard to determine from websites I’ve looked at so far.

    And what is the ideal position and direction when swallowing? “Tongue thrusting” seems to be universally recognized as harmful, but what is it exactly, how harmful is it, and how does one work on correcting it?


    • Dr. Jennings says:

      Janine: The tongue should rest in the roof of the mouth touching the tissue just behind your upper front teeth. In a normal swallow the teeth come together to stabilize the jaw and then the tongue should push against the pallate from front to back, causing the food to be forced backwards. Tongue thrusting occurs most often when the teeth are either not aligned well or are too short- so the tongue inserts itsself in between the teeth so as to make a splint/stabilizing support so as the swallow is not so traumatic. There are specialist that work with patients to improve swallow reflex (myofunctional therapist). Also, getting the jaw aligned helps. Dr. J

  7. Jason says:

    I have had intermittent shooting pains in my left ear, along with pain/sensitivity in my scalp and neck. I’ve also experienced some tingling and numbness on that side of my face. My bite seems quite “off” to me. Could jaw tension and a malocclusion cause these symptoms? Thank you.


  8. Lorraine Pendlebury says:

    Dr. Jennings:
    I have a 22 yer-old granddaughter who was diagnosed with a large, aggressive, but benign jaw tumor 2 1/2 years ago. Her doctor suggested an experimental treatment of daily Calcitonin injections to shrink the tumor and build bone. The tumor has destroyed jaw bone. She has been diligently giving herself daily injections which finally showed some progress after 2 1/2 years. She also has TMJ, which may be what is causing her severe pain, so between the tumor and the TMJ, she was put on Oxycodone and has had many small surgeries to remove scar tissue and try and give her some pain relief. Recently, still in pain, she opted for more invasive surgery to try and remove the tumor as a last ditch effort to alleviate the pain while she continued with the Calcitonin injections. She said that that surgery did little for the pain. We believe she is now addicted to Oxycodone, the family is worried she will eventually kill herself, and wants to help her, so I was thinking of getting a second opinion. In reading your articles and the success you have had, I’m hoping there might be something you can do to help alleviate the pain and, once we can do that, then we can try and get her off the Oxycodone. Is there anything you can do?
    Grandma Lorraine
    Sacramento area

    • Dr. Jennings says:

      Not knowing what kind of tumor it is, it is hard to say. But generally aligning the jaw would greatly reduce the potential for pain. Also, TMJ condition could be elevating substance P levels, thus causing the tumor. Most likely jaw alignment would reduce her pain.

  9. Michael says:

    Hello Dr can TMJ trouble swallowing and also sinus problems as well as the feeling of water in the ears when swallowing? and can some of this be corrected with treatment I have a ct scan showing turbinate swelling and backup of mucus and the dentist said I also probably have sleep apnea

  10. Michael says:

    my neck and top of my head hurt sometimes and whenever I chew and talk for a long time my jaw hurts, all of this started 6 months after dental work… and this is about the 4th month, i’ll wake up to my whole body aching

    • Dr. Jennings says:

      Yes, bite disturbances can cause the whole body to hurt (trigeminal has branches that descend the spine and modulate the ascending spinal signal). Bite also raises substance P levels which makes one more prone to pain.Dr. J

  11. Nancy says:

    I would add vertigo to the list.
    I have over half of the associated disorders. Enjoyed your interview with Dave Asprey. Never heard of Substance P– thank you so much for this!
    Widening my bite, anteriorizing my teeth w/ a DNA appliance and weekly visits to a DO have helped the vertigo, the migraines and the joint pain– but if I stop treatments I relapse. Dr Wm Hang says I need surgery on both mandible and maxilla– can’t afford. I have improved my sleep apnea (breathing though a 1 mm airway)– by biohacking. I use a day appliance at night to bring my tongue forward– much better than just mandibular appliances for tough cases. I had an AHI of 33 sleeping on an incline w/ a dental device in prior to my complex nasal reconstruction. After– 16. I figured out a method to get down to an AHI/RDI of Zero in an attended study for 200 minutes– no movement! This is sleeping on my back w/ a CPAP and a homemade version of a Sleepweaver Elan nasal mask. Happy to share hacker tips– I have been on a BiPAp for 4 years– recently upgraded to CPAP. Check out my article on my site on why this all happens. You barely touched on it in your interview– people need to understand the critical concept. Thanks so much for your contributions– I am still dealing w/ pain and dysfunction– especially after being rear ended last year. Bless you for your contributions…

  12. Megan says:

    Hello Dr. Jennings,

    I was recently diagnosed with dysautonomia, specifically postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS). Basically, my sympathetic nervous system is constantly in overdrive. Some of my symptoms include tachycardia, low blood pressure, dizziness, feelings of imbalance, pressure in head/behind eyes, brain fog, headaches, heart palpitations, fatigue, and chest pain. I have not been able to find a cause for my symptoms. Do you think the root cause of my symptoms could be attributed to a TMJ issue?

    • Dr. Jennings says:

      Yes, I think it could be the cause. The Japanese have done 35 years of extensive research on bite destruction in animals. Anytime they lowered the bite on animals they always got dysautonomia. Inherited short back teeth is the most common cause of TMJ. The trigeminal mesencephalic nucleus is a paired nucleus to the locus ceruleus (i.e. share lots of information\ hence effect each other). Dr. J

  13. Ashley says:

    Hi Dr. Jennings,

    My jaw pops in and out a great deal any time I move it more than a little bit. I’m 27 and have had issues with it for years but it has never cracked and popped so easily from the movement of my mouth. I am starting to notice pocket-like development along the side of my face (jowls to be more specific- think Paul McCartney) and am wondering if this could be easily influenced by whatever may be going on in my jaw joint. There are movements that are impossible for me to do also, such as lifting my head up in a sit up. The front of my neck/throat tires out almost immediately. A few years back a dentist told me that the cartilege in my jaw socket was completely worn out, especially on my left side where I feel the most “inflammation”. I’m worried all of this is connected and only getting worse and I fear that worse could mean complete loss of control in my facial muscles, or worse, neurological disorders. Is this reversible at this point? I live in Chicago and am clueless on what to do next. I appreciate any insight you’re able to offer. Thank you!

  14. Ryan says:

    I’ve never gotten a formal diagnosis of TMJ (since I don’t have pain nor any unusual popping), but I wonder if that may be my problem.

    -When my wisdom teeth came out (I was eighteen, I’m almost twenty-one now), it was discovered that they were growing under my other teeth and pushing them out of position.
    -As long as I can remember, I’ve been a mouth breather. I’ve always having had trouble breathing through my nose, but I’ve got to wonder if the jaw is involved.
    -Swallowing trouble. I could be swallowing a tiny vitamin D softgel, it would get stuck in my throat and stay there for hours until I can drink water and push it down.
    -Depression + anxiety
    -Borderline Asperger’s
    -Fatigue (not CFS, but still limiting) + insomnia
    -Terrible IBS

    Does this sound like TMJ to you? How would I go about scheduling a visit with you?

    • Ryan says:

      Also, since TMJ is known to disrupt blood flow to the brain (as in CFS), could TMJ be related to my speech disfluencies?

      • Dr. Jennings says:

        Yes, I have had cases where the bite impaired speech. Examples of effect of bite/trigeminal on brain blood flow is “brain freeze” and why boxers get knocked out when hit in the jaw. Dr. J

    • Dr. Jennings says:

      Yes, this sounds like it could be elevated substance P from bite. Please call for an appointment 510.522.6828

  15. Dr Jennings, is what you do at all related to OSB (oral system biology), which Farrand Robson developed? He too talks about re-positioning the jaw, but I’m not sure if it is in the same direction. They talk about dental devices you wear to move your tongue so you’re not obstructing so much of your air passages/ breathing. Just curious!
    Kindest regards,

    • Dr. Jennings says:

      Kris: What I do is precision jaw orthopedics based on Paleo occlusion principles (using biomechanical principles of occlusion)- no not the same. I don’t worry about the tongue as is takes care of itself when I align the jaw precisely.

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