Developing TMJ arthrosis at a condylar asymmetry


is likely to occur when bruxism is present.It seems to be the result on the shorter condyle side at unilateral bruxism as most often the shorter condyle side is being used as the mediotrusive side. The bird beak formation of the antero-lateral part of the condyle in combination with the flattened surfaces of the articular joint components is easy to recognize in any panoramic X-ray.

Dental treatment in patients with the radiological signs of a developing TMJ arthrosis should therefore routinely not be executed in the “normal” intercuspal position. The dental treatment must be guided by the normally developed, higher and healthy condyle. This approach often entitles a more extended treatment. The vertical dimension of the occlusion of the shorter condyle side needs to be increased as the treatment  is aiming at a symmetrical temporomandibular joint function. The treatment thereby is compensating at the occlusal level  what is missing vertically intraarticularly.avoiding or reducing the effects unilateral bruxism.


House of Gnathology?


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A week ago I had the pleasure to attend the XXVII International AIG (Associazione Italiana di Gnatologia) Congress in Torino, Italy. Twentyseven speakers from six countries each had about 30 minutes to present their thoughts about the relationship between occlusion and temporomandibular joint disorders. In general it could be concluded that a stable occlusion would improve the function of the stomatognathic system and thereby reduce the risk for developing or aggravating a temporomandibular joint disorder. It was also underlined in several lectures that gnathology is a team work and that occlusion is one tool in the treatment of a temporomandibular joint disorder.
It was interesting to note that the speakers in general agreed in finding occlusion an important factor in the treatment of a temporomandibular joint disorder, i.e. a complete contradiction to the conclusion of several hundreds of articles and studies proclaiming that when RDC/TMD are used in the evaluation of treatment outcome occlusion is not important and should not get priority or most often not even be considered in the treatment of a temporomandibular joint disorder.

RDC/TMD were discussed and by a great part of the participants even questioned in the final round table discussion of the congress. In my opinion and in agreement with many other clinicians RDC/TMD cannot and should not be used in the clinical situation in which a specific diagnosis is to be the sound base for the treatment. Reliable criteria like maximum mouth opening, mandibular movements, the difference between dynamic and static pain and even the difference between the vertical dimensions of the two temporomandibular joint condyles visible and measurable in a panoramic X-ray exist. Therefore my suggestion to the RDC/TMD supporters is: Next time you conduct a clinical study, why not incorporate the above mentioned criteria! I am pretty convinced that the results will be different regarding the eventual link between occlusion and the temporomandibular joint disorder.

Finally I would delete the ? from the title of this blog and agree with the suggestion from Dr.Eugenio Tanteri that a forum “House of Gnathology” might come to an agreement that a correctly designed and applied occlusion is important in providing  oral stability and thereby reduce the prevalence of temporomandibular joint disorders among our patients.

Tinnitus and TMJ condylar asymmetry


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It seems, as if patients with tinnitus show a large lateral deviation of the mandible between the retruded position of the mandible and the intercuspal position, there might be a chance to influence the bothersome sound. A panoramic X-ray easily confirms or rejects the presence of a vertical temporomandibular joint condylar asymmetry. At an asymmety the lateral deviation of the mandible mostly occurs in the direction towards the “shorter” condyle side with that side condyle being forced upwards and backwards in the intercuspal position.
A stabilization splint fabricated in the correct mandibular position i.e. when the position is guided by the “higher” condyle and thereby making the splint thicker on the “shorter” condyle side and thus compensating for what is missing in vertical condylar dimension might be one solution to try. The splint is to be worn as much as possible. An immediate response is also most often not to be expected.
Thinking back of many patients my experience has been that many patients do not immediately feel a difference regarding their tinnitus. However , faithfully wearing the splint for a couple of weeks to months many patients have reported definitive relief. If so, the permanent solution of their problem may be to establish an oral stability via additional dentistry.

Migraine or ?


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Although the specific diagnosis of migraine is defined as a chronic neurological disorder characterized by recurrent moderate to severe headaches often in association with a number of autonomic nervous system symptoms it is often by our dental patients used as the general term for facial pain with often also no response to the prescribed medication. This experience I share with many colleagues and yet I have to tell you about the 36 years old man, who was referred for chronic left side facial pain he had suffered for 18 years, half of his life. He had visited many doctors and he had also been taking a lot of medication during the years.

The pain occurred almost every day and was described by the patient as migraine on the left side of his face covering the left side temple and cheek area. Mandibular movements were normal. A panoramic X-ray did not reveal any pathology and showed a temporomandibular joint condylar symmetry.Static pain could be provoked for closing of his mouth. During our conversation it became obvious that a left side latero-protrusion was an often used position for bruxism, which also could be confirmed by marked facets of his left side front teeth.

After information about the possibility to initially wear a stabilization splint part time ( during day time working hours )  in order to avoid his unilateral abuse of the left side mm temporalis and the deep portion of masseter he decided to try. The stabilization splint was designed around the retruded position of his mandible, inserted without any adjustments and checked after another 6 weeks. At that time the young man announced that he had been completely free from any facial pain since the day after the insertion of the splint. It had been worn during the day except for chewing. He also showed an oral stability without the splint in his mouth.

In conclusion: When the dental patient is telling about his or her migraine that is not responding to the, by the medical doctor, prescribed medication DO PERFORM A FUNCTIONAL EXAMINATION OF THE STOMATOGNATHIC SYSTEM. There might be a chance to help the patient and not only his or her teeth.





Indices for jaw registrations


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Sometimes it can be difficult to get a relaxed mandible in the process of jaw registration in the retruded position of the mandible in as well the diagnostic phase as in the steps of treatment. It happens mostly when the patient is a heavy bruxer or when the patient seems to defend him/herself against the pressure from the hands of the dentist in the clinical situation. A condylar asymmetry may add to the clinical difficulty in getting the registration right.
With the measurements of the vertical dimensions of the temporomandibular joint condyles and the Maaxloc device at hands the above mentioned problems can definitely be reduced.It is my opinion, which to a great extent I have achieved from the dental technicians, that the registrations made in the Maaxloc system get into a more retruded position of the mandible in comparison with the manually taken clinical indices which often are protruded.This conclusion is based upon several years of cooperation with Ines Selimanovic T.I.C. laboratory, Malmoe ,Sweden, an experienced dental technician, with whom I have made comparisons of by me taken clinical indices and by her made registrations in the Maaxloc device.
In conc;usion: To avoid unnecessary and time consuming adjustments despite quality of the dental work in the ” difficult mouth “it might be worth while to become critical to the manually taken clinical registration and consider the advantage of the Maaxloc device.

Response to Jamie’s problem ( question )

Thanks for your question. It is my opinion that your left side tmj condyle is higher ( evaluated on your attached panoramic X-ray ). This side therefore needs to be the guide in finding the correct mandibular position for your treatment.Your splint should therefore be somewhat thicker on your right side. From the clinical pictures it seems as if your left side teeth meet prior to your right side teeth on closing ( in the retruded position of your mandible ).Your splint probably needs to be redone in order to compensate for the condylar height that is missing on your right side. In addition, it seems as if you are bruxing in a left side laterotrusion (predominantly mandibular movements to the left ), a thought based upon the flattening of the right side condyle visible on the X-ray.
Tore L. Hansson

x-ray analysis of vertical tmj Condylar Asymmetry

Tore L. Hansson

Dental students are normally taught about the necessity of an overview radiograph in the screening for and in the early detection of undiagnosed hard tissue changes of the maxilla and of the mandible (neoplasms, tumors or any strange lesions). Most dental students have also been told the questionable value of the panoramic radiograph because of the superimposition of the structures due to the construction of the X-ray machine with its two axes of rotation ( focus and film in opposite directions). On the other hand the panoramic radiograph is the only routinely used radiograph in the dental practice in which comparisons between the right and the left sides of the jaws can be made, as both side are projected in the same film without any change of head position.
However,comparisons of horizontal dimensions are not possible due to the superimposition of structures.Vertical dimensions can be compared as the focus of…

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Tinnitus and TMD


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Tinnitus in itself is not an indication for dental intervention. However,if tinnitus is mentioned at an examination of facial pain of either myogeneous or arthrogeneous origin there may be a chance to influence its existence. After reviewing some records of patients some years ago and present experience it is my opinion that it is about one third of the patients suffering tinnitus and TMD who will notice a reduction or even a total elimination of their tinnitus from oral stability initially from a stabilization splint compensating for a temporomandibular joint vertical condylar asymmetry, when present.

As it was just one third who reported a benefit regarding their tinnitus it must be up to the patient to decide if it is worth while to invest in an oral device fighting tinnitus. Objective information regarding a dubious result should precede the decision. It is also  important to tell the patient that very often the relief from tinnitus does not come immediately after the insertion of the device. It is reported by several patients that it could take a couple of months before they noticed a difference in their tinnitus. In conclusion: When a stabilization splint is being delivered  in trying to influence a tinnitus the patient might have to wear the splint several months before a change occurs  and before one actually knows if it was beneficial or not. 

Mounting casts


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The other day I had to check the mounting of the casts of the upper and lower jaws of a patient with a condylar asymmetry of about 6%. The reason for my visit to the dental laboratory was that the right side lower four units bridge had been redone and several times before that adjusted. And yet the patient found it too low i.e. her teeth of her right side did not contact in occlusion unless she  forced her mandible to the right.

During the visit at the laboratory it became once again obvious to me from the discussions with two well experienced dental technicians that very often the indices to be used in mounting the casts cannot be used. The indices are perforated and mostly show slides in the material used indicating that the mandible of the patient has not been stable at the time of index registration.  Therefore the technicians try to analyze different facets of the occlusal surfaces of the casts. They try to fake the movements of the patients mouth that have created them and thereafter, still manually, they fix the casts in the position which seems to  be the starting point for the suspected movement.This position usually is looked upon as the intercuspal position and will be used for the subsequent mounting of the casts.

At a condylar asymmetry it is therefore easy to understand that with the above described mounting of the casts the crowns or bridges of the ” shorter condyle ” side will be too low. Clinically oral stability will be lacking despite the insertion of the prosthodontic work. Very often tooth contacts of the ” higher condyle  ” side will be looked upon as occlusal interferences and removed in an ” adjustment “.This actually results in a decrease of the vertical dimension and a not one hundred percentage satisfied patient.

The problem and frustration can easily be avoided if the vertical condylar asymmetry is transferred into the Maaxloc instrument. A registration at the clinic or at the laboratory is made  and used in mounting the casts with the result that mostly the prosthodontic work can be inserted  without any adjustment at its delivery.

Asymmetry Index ( AI ) for temporomandibular joint Condylar Asymmetry


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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.