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Serving Melbourne

for over 20 years

35 Churchill Ave , Maidstone

VIC 3012, Australia

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Serving Melbourne
for over 30 years

Group 11

35 Churchill Ave , Maidstone, VIC 3012, Australia

3 Simple tests you can do to see if you have a jaw problem

The jaw joint, also known as the Temporomandibular joint, is one of the most important joints in the human body yet it is so poorly understood by people, practitioners and, to an extent, science.

The brain has a huge vested interest in the health of our face. Going back thousands of years ago if you were to break your jaw the result would most likely be death. The inability to communicate or eat would most likely eventually create a slow and painful death.

Our oral cavity has been associated with different facets of health for many years. George Catlin back in the 1800’s observed a red Indian tribe that seemed to have a lower rate of young children in their cemeteries and a lower level of scoliosis and dental abnormalities.

When he investigated, he found that the tribe believed that children should be watched overnight and if they opened their mouth it should be pinched closed. This belief was based on the understanding that if the mouth was opened spirits would enter and torment your dreams.

More than 100 years later science has started to show that airflow through the sinuses may result in an elevation of a substance known as nitric oxide. When this fails to occur, it can predispose children to nightmares, might terrors and various other issues.

In fact, Catlin wrote that he believed that never was a man closer to death when he woke up from a fit of a nightmare!

We are only just beginning to understand the breadth of this issue. There is research now associating various muscle strength changes with TMJ dysfunction, brain changes, brain stem changes and so much more.

There is amazing research being done by people such as Brendan Stack who has been making some amazing changes with motor ticks simply by altering TMJ position.

Unfortunately, the rapidly growing science behind TMJ dysfunction has been slow at filtering out to the greater community and the understanding of how to assess for these neurological issues has been even slower.

So here are three simple techniques we use in the office each day that you can use to potentially get an understanding if TMJ dysfunction might be having a on your problems:

  1. Measure the distance from the lateral eye to the corner of the mouth – There’s not a lot of research on this one, but it’s a great little test that’s easy to do. The measurement should be symmetrical from side to side.
  2. Say the phrase Sixty-Sixty – What we call the ‘phonetic S’ puts the jaw into a position where it should be relaxed. This position is often referred to as the central resting position. There should be minimal observed movement of the mandible (lower jaw) during repeating of this phrase. Most importantly there should be no shifting sideways of the jaw.
  3. Bite down on an icy pole stick and observe for things to change – Correctly spacing the teeth is a bit of a science and not as easy as I mention here. But for many people gapping the jaw by getting someone to bite down on one or two icy pole sticks can often tell you a lot about jaw involvement. Check the range of motion in both arms and both hips then bite down on the icy pole sticks. If range of motion improves in any of the limbs, chances are something in the neurology is being affected by the jaw.

Like always, please understand that these simple tests are not conclusive nor are they all-inclusive and I’ve simplified some of the science around it to make it easier to understand. But, detecting TMJ dysfunction can be a difficult thing to do and really requires a thorough assessment of structure, neurology and biomechanics by someone trained in the field.


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Serving Melbourne
for over 20 years