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For more than twenty years I have been working on a regular basis with Dr Ugo Gambardella, Medical Space in Seriate, Italy. In 1993 we founded the T.A.C. Seriate clinic, ( Team Approach to Craniomandibular disorders ) in order to optimize the diagnostics and treatment of patients suffering facial pain due to dysfunction of the stomatognathic system. Dr Gambardella was already then experienced in prosthodontics as well as in implantology.
Already at the start it became obvious to us that a large portion of the mostly referred patients showed a condylar asymmetry and a lack of oral stability. Initially our treatment aimed at a normalization of the stomatognathic system via a stabilization splint in its design compensating for the condylar asymmetry, when present, and providing at least a temporary oral stability. After 6 – 12 months several patients wanted to have permanent oral stability, which then was achieved through mostly prosthodontics , sometimes in combination with preprosthetic orthodontics.
Some years ago and then more than 5 years after completed treatment the patients were invited to have their situation evaluated and to tell how they felt and how they were functioning after treatment. The equivalent clinical examination of their stomatognathic system was executed by an Italian speaking colleague, who did not know what kind of treatment the patients had got or been exposed to. The teeth depicted in the panoramic overview X-rays were covered i.e. made not visible to the examiner while the two temporomandibular joints were shown.
The condylar asymmetry was analyzed and for each patient an Asymmetry Index ( AI ) was calculated according to the following formula: ( R – L : R + L ) x 100 i.e. the right side condylar height minus the left side condylar height divided by the sum of the right and left side condylar heights multiplied by 100. Thus an asymmetry index was expressed in percentage for each patient.
The results of the subsequent analysis showed that after more than five years with permanent oral stability no patient any longer was found with a mainly arthrogeneous origin of pain. Myogeneous origin of pain was also frequently eliminated or markedly reduced. All patients showed an increase of maximum mouth opening.
The patients were grouped and analyzed according to the asymmetry index ( AI ) . It can be concluded from the results that patients with an AI > 3 % in general benefit from reversible treatment. Patients with an AI in the range between 3 % and 10 % may do well with just a temporary oral stability in form of a stabilization splint i.e. the splint can be worn part time, which for most patients means during sleep. As the participating patients with an AI > 10 % definitely benefitted the most and also felt subjectively completely different, mostly totally pain free after the treatment it is our opinion, that when you find a condylar asymmetry > 10 % in a patient with a diagnosed facial pain, you can comfortably suggest permanent occlusal treatment after the initially reversible period in the correct mandibular position guided by the higher temporomandibular joint condyle. The permanent treatment then executed in the same mandibular position will provide oral stability.