TMJ disorder braces osteopaths The Case of the Brakes on the Braces flickr cc credit brian yapLast Thursday I spoke to three of the osteopath doctors that I share patients with. The patients had all either been through a year of treatment, had the surgery, or were pretty much done and feeling good overall – that is until I sent them to the osteopath for their final checkups. You see, dear readers, I work with cranial osteopaths every day of the week and we very carefully check to see if my patients are able to go into braces and handle the stress of the braces. Let me explain a bit more. When a patient has an archwire- i.e. the wire attached to the bracket- and it goes across the midline, across the upper front teeth, this will effectively slow down the motion of the skull and may even slow down CSF and lymphatic drainage. And this is not a good thing.

Too many of my new patients come in complaining that their pain started during the braces or shortly after braces were done. I learned a long time ago to pay attention to the patients who tell me these things. The way the skull works is that it really needs to ‘move’ at all times to keep the CSF moving, otherwise things ‘lock up’ and ‘back up’ at the same time. Think of it like this- if the drains in your house are not open and able to drain out all the crud that happens to them, they back up and you end with damage to the house. That’s what happens in your skull too- if the crud produced by the brain is not allowed to drain out, then it backs up and you end up with things like ADD/OCD/autoimmune disorders, and other not so fun things happen. Don’t take my word for it- look up the research done at University of Virginia hospital center regarding the brain and lymphatics. This is going to be huge!

And so I have digressed…apologies. Back to the story at hand. The three osteopath doctors told me that the five (that’s right, five) patients that were supposed to be ready for their braces were not quite there yet- in other words crossing the midline with an archwire would have been too stressful on their bodies. But fear not, dear reader, they would all be in good shape with another month or two of osteo treatment. At that point in time, their cranial bones will be moving quite well and they can handle the small bit of stress caused by doing the braces and we can finish up their cases.

Now is where the ominous music should be placed in the program- the dum dum dum dum with lots of drums and scary sounds because by now, some of you have just realized that maybe, just maybe, they should take a different path other than slapping on braces or those clear aligners you see on TV. Just maybe you should have someone who understands TMJ disorders take a good look at you and figure out if your body can handle doing those braces. Just maybe your body is not ready to have the cranial motion locked up for a while. Just maybe such a screening would help you avoid headaches, neck strains, cranial distortions, etc – all of which are caused by having braces put on too early. Just maybe!