Laser therapy and TMD
Posted on Monday, July 21st, 2008
More and more, lasers are being used in dentistry, sometimes in very innovative ways. For instance, one of the periodontists we refer to, Dr. Douglas Gilio in Visalia, uses a laser surgery protocol that can thoroughly sanitize periodontal pockets, which can help halt the progression of gum disease or guard against it. The laser also has the ability “to desensitize teeth that normally the dentist might not be able to treat.”
Recently, we read of a new application of lasers in dentistry, via a paper published in the most recent issue of the Journal of Oral Laser Applications.
In a single blind clinical trial, 48 people with temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) but no other health or jaw problems were split into two groups, one receiving placebo and the other, the actual treatment: low-level laser application at three points over the TM joint. Several times afterwards, they checked symptoms such as clicking and pain, which turned out to be lessened in the test group.
Indeed, a low-level laser works very well in calming muscles. It increases circulation and thus provides more oxygen to the sore muscles. However, most of the pain issues we see with TMD involve clenching and bruxing – factors excluded from the present study. These habits can aggravate the TMJ pain even further if the occlusion of the teeth causes the condyle of the lower jaw to be displaced. When this happens, the amount of impingement on the delicate tissue can be enormous. The muscles are fore-lengthened, which causes inflammation.
Unfortunately, laser therapy isn’t much of a help in these situations.
See our most recent newsletter for a case history involving the treatment of TMD prior to mercury removal and detox: Choosing Your Route to Healing – A Mercury Removal Case History. (Scroll down to the second article in the issue.)