"Before I came here, I had a lot of neck trouble. Just sitting on a computer desk and doing hygiene all day pretty much was a chiropractor's nightmare."
That's when Laci Shepard asked her boss, Greg Yount, for help. He's a dentist who has spent the past 25 years treating TMJ; a disorder which starts off small, but can turn into a real problem.
"So, people who have clicking or popping or joint noises, it might just be a nuisance for them. But eventually, their jaw might lock shut. It might lock open. They may develop headaches, neck aches, backaches."
Yount knows all too well what living with TMJ is like.
"I have some unfortunate experience when I was younger and had my own TMJ problems. So, I got interested because I was a TMJ patient and I have been through lots of different courses, lots of different schools of thought until I was able to find one that actually worked."
The National Institute of Dental Research estimates TMJ affects more than 10 million Americans. It can start for a number of reasons.
"Trauma is a major contributor in one shape or another. Bad bites, people with compromised airways, people with sleep apnea, forward head posture; all these things go together. One thing affects something else."
Young uses a series of tests to determine where the problem is and how to treat it.
"We take x-rays. We take sonograms of the joints. We take EMG's of the muscles. We do jaw-tracking. We try to figure out everything we can about this person so we know best how to treat them and to not treat them."
An orthotic is created to reposition the jaw to stop the clicking.
"Basically, since I've been wearing my orthotic, I have not had any neck trouble. We check it periodically to make sure I don't need any adjustments. I do ortho maintenance once a month and we just kind of go from there."
From Texas to Florida, people from all over the country come to Yount for treatment. Many, like Shepard, leave satisfied.
"It's complex. There is hope and it is complicated."
Yount says the condition is most common in women in their 40's. He recommends anyone who may have or has TMJ to seek out a support group.
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