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Maribel Vann, DDS
Jawlash, Whiplash and TMJ Problems
. http://drmaribelvann.com/

Jawlash, Whiplash and TMJ Problems

In the 1970s the term “jawlash” began appearing on dental reports as part of the sequelae of whiplash injuries. Because the jaw is attached to the skull and shoulder girdle through numerous attachments, it easily becomes misaligned when the involved muscles go into spasm.

In a study conducted by the Preventive Dental Research Foundation, 500 whiplash injury cases were reviewed and considered “closed” after conventional treatment. Some victims, however, did not consider themselves cured, for they still suffered from a multitude of symptoms, including

1. Pains of the head

2. Burning sensations of the forehead and scalp

3. Facial pains

4. Clicking, popping, or cracking sounds in the jaw

5. Buzzing, ringing, and roaring sounds in the ear

6. Stuffiness or itching feeling in the ears

7. Balance problems

8. Difficulty in swallowing

9. Pain in the roof of the mouth

10. Blurred vision

11. Sensation of pressure around and behind the eyes

12. Sensitivity of the eyes to light

13. Reduction of arm and shoulder movement

14. Tingling sensations in the arms and fingers

The actual mechanism of whiplash involves a forward hyperextension with a corkscrew effect on the spine, sacrum, and pelvic complex. The sudden pulling and jerking motions cause raptures and micro-tears within the muscle tissue, which exacerbate the pain, by causing the following

1. Decreased circulation of blood to the area

2. Decreased oxygen supply

3. Decreased ability of the lymphatic system to clear the traumatized area

4. Reduced nutrient supply

5. Increased metabolism of the involved tissue

6. Increased build-up of waste products

7. Increased muscle fatigue

8. Inflammation

9. Swelling

These changes account for the prolonged symptoms of muscle soreness and pain, symptoms of muscle weakness and tenderness, numbness, hypersensitivity, burning sensations, heaviness, paresthesia and shooting pains. Plus, vascular pressure can lead to decreased blood to an area, discoloration (such as in cyanosis), swelling and nutritional changes.

Whiplash injuries are not always the result of motor vehicle accidents but can result from falls, direct traumas to the skull, or moving forces applied to various parts of the body such as those which occur in contact sports. From a total structural perspective, other common symptoms include

1. Restriction of neck motion

2. Blackouts

3. Chronic fatigue

4. Heaviness of the head

5. Mental fogginess, light-headed-ness, poor memory an inability to concentrate

6. Nausea and other gastrointestinal problems

7. Low back pains

8. Pain between the shoulder blades

9. Cold hands and feet, numbness of the arms, hands, feet and shoulders

10. Stress-related symptoms of extreme nervousness, palpitation, insomnia, excessive sweating, anxiety, depression, tremors, and pallor

Recent clinical experience indicates that as many as 80 percent of whiplash injuries induced by rear-end motor vehicle collisions will also include associated TMJ trauma. These jaw joint problems do not necessarily appear immediately after the accident. In fact, some patients may not be plagued until months later. The primary trauma comes from the forces generated by the hyperextension phase. As the head is forced backward, the lower jaw is pulled forward and open. The TMJ ligaments and chewing muscles become overextended inducing microtearing within the tissue; then spasm and disc derangement occur within the temporo-mandibular joint.

The photograph below shows the advanced lightwire functional (ALF) appliances. The ALF corrects TMJ problems and its related symptoms.

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