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November 18, 1998

TMJ Disorder: An Example of How Extremely Complex Orofacial Anatomy & Physiology Really Is. Burt Reynold's: 3 Years of TMJ--Temporo Mandibular Joint Disorder (Jaw Joint Dysfunction)

PAST: Organized Excerpts from Burt Reynold's Interview by N Collins in ELLE Magazine, April 1987: Here He Goes Again After Too Long an Absence, One of Hollywood's Favorite Sons Is Back On The Screen--And He's Looking Better Than Ever.

TMJ disorder is magnified by trauma: Burt Reynolds got hit on the jaw. He didn't work for three years, he lost weight down to 140 pounds which later went up to around 190. People thought he had AIDS which kept him from making movies.... What he actually had was tempormandibular joint disorder--TMJ.

TMJ is painful and debilitating: When your jaw, your bite, goes off your equilibrium goes off, too. You're in a kind of brain pain that comes up and whips your eyeballs out. Then the nausea starts. It‘s like being seasick all the time. You throw up, can't lie down, can't take any light. If the phone rang, I'd fall on the floor with a pillow over my head because of the pain. I had tubes in my ears and I didn't eat--just drank soup. I kept getting thinner and thinner. It was scary. I got these real carved cheekbones.

TMJ sufferers are often referred for psychoanalyisis: Finally, some friends suggested I see a psychiatrist." One month in a support group.....had things in perspective.

TMJ is not rare: Is TMJ disorder a rare disease? No, lots of people have it but there are thousands of dentists who don't know how to treat it. I saw 13 of them. Finally, I found a guy in Florida and spent weeks--10 hours a day--in a dental chair while he rebalanced every tooth in my head. I didn't work for three years. (just as he had traumatic TMJ dysfunction, everyday 200 lbs. of chewing force can create similar chronic TMJ dysfunction in susceptible individuals)

TMJ can be overcome: Asked when he finally decided to take control of life again? He said, "The moment I woke up and was no longer nauseated."

PRESENT: There have been a number of highly contested philosophical approaches to diagnosing and treating TMJ. Unfortunately, that dilemma shows the great blockade standing in the way of understanding both the importance of orofacial development in the first 10+ years of life and the balance of function of the left and right jaw joints, muscles, bone and related anatomy and physiology structure throughout life.

Fortunately for patients, medical science recently has taken an interest in learning more about nasal airway development and function. So the upper and lower jaws which can significantly affect the nasal airway as well as the oral airway route will become increasingly recognized, studied and accepted for the major important role played as The Airway Gateway to Life.

FUTURE: Even as nasal function and nitric oxide function are increasingly explored, so will infant airway formation and reformation. Functional Jaw Orthopedics will become recognized as a means to evaluate, diagnose and treat airway obstruction and malformation. And exploring the frontier will increasingly center on affecting proper growth and development of The Airway Gateway.

Take Care,
Dr. David Page


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