Dental physiotherapy is addressed to patients suffering from problems with the temporomandibular joints and the entire masticatory organ. It involves the dentist, orthodontist, physiotherapist and speech therapist working together to take a holistic approach to the patient and speed up his/her return to full mobility and comfort.
The temporomandibular joint is an inconspicuous but critical organ in everyday life. It allows you to open your mouth billions of times in a life, and its proper functioning is useful when speaking, singing or eating. The temporomandibular joint is – together with teeth, masseter muscles, jaws and mandible – part of the functional system incorporated in the craniocervical complex. Disruption of any of the elements of this system leads to pain and subsequent damage to the structures. Therefore, physiotherapy should be undertaken as soon as possible to eliminate adverse effects.
Problems that can be treated by a dental physiotherapist:
• bruxism, broadly defined, which is the acquired habit of clenching the jaws, grinding the teeth (sometimes involuntarily during sleep), often caused by stress,
• pain when biting, yawning, chewing,
• abnormal mandibular mobility (deviation of the mandible, limited or excessive mouth opening)
• past face trauma or surgical procedures involving the face,
• pain in the face, head and neck,
• tension-type headaches,
• earache accompanied by tinnitus,
• malocclusion, orthodontic treatment which can cause increased muscle tension,
• cracking, clicking and popping sounds in the temporomandibular joints,
• excessive muscle tension in the craniofacial region,
• oral habits, e.g. nail biting, lip biting, cheek biting etc.
Rehabilitation involves reducing muscle tension in the head, face, mouth, cervical and thoracic spine. Checking the correct functioning of key body parts (pelvis, foot) and correcting any asymmetries if so exist. Learning to exercise and self-correct erroneous patterns results in the restoration of proper temporomandibular joint function.
History taking, thorough examination of a patient, treatment plan, pain therapy, exercises to support normal movement patterns, physical treatments and patient education make up the overall support and return to normal patient functioning.