Richard G. Petty, MD

Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the hinge joint that connects your mandible or lower jaw to the temporal bone at the side of the skull.

The joint can be affected by many disease processes including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, the arthritis associated with psoriasis and infectious arthritis. There’s a whole ragbag of other illnesses and injuries that can affect the joint. But it is more commonly affected by muscular tension, problems with the bite, or tooth grinding (bruxism). I’ve been interested in TMJ problems ever since my days working in the Princess Margaret Migraine Clinic in London, where I saw a great many people with chronic headaches due to problems at the joint. A dental colleague helped many of them. Once I had been trained in acupuncture, I found that this is one condition in which I’ve always had good rates of success, both in humans and in horses.

So I was pleased to see an audit of 60 patients with TMJ dysfunction was compiled from the practices of 15 dental practitioners in the United Kingdom who were applying to become members of the thriving British Dental Acupuncture Society. Simple acupuncture was used at local points around the joint, on the neck, and on a point on the hand that is linked up with the joint, and tends to relax muscles and improve blood flow. This was a simple study, and in hindsight, it could have been improved. But the conclusions were encouraging: 85% of patients benefited, and the intensity of the pain was reduced by an average of 75%. This is remarkable since the patients were only receiving acupuncture and not any of the “extras” that I normally recommend as a matter of course.

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About Richard G. Petty, MD
Dr. Richard G. Petty, MD is a world-renowned authority on the brain, and his revolutionary work on human energy systems has been acclaimed around the globe. He is also an accredited specialist in internal and metabolic medicine, endocrinology, psychiatry, acupuncture and homeopathy. He has been an innovator and leader of the human potential movement for over thirty years and is also an active researcher, teacher, writer, professional speaker and broadcaster. He is the author of five books, including the groundbreaking and best selling CD series Healing, Meaning and Purpose. He has taught in over 45 countries and 48 states in the last ten years, but spends as much time as possible on his horse farm in Georgia.


3 Responses to “Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction”
  1. bekah says:

    I was wondering if there was a doctor i could talk to about Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction.Please email me if there is someone i can be in contact with. thank you!!

  2. Richard Petty says:

    This is what I emailed:
    Thank you so much for leaving a question on my blog.

    Who to see depends very much on where you live.

    Nowadays most good dentists know about TMJ dysfunction, can diagnose it and make appropriate referrals. It is also something that most rheumatologists and headache specialists are very alert to.

    There is a lot of discussion about the best ways to treat it, but that is a complex issue.

    Let me now if I can help further,

    Kind regards,


  3. Tiffany says:

    I acquired tmj after getting a wisdom tooth pulled about a year ago, and I’m pleased to see more research being done on the subject, as from my experience it is not very well understood. What was particularly interesting to me was the link between the hand and joints – since getting tmj I’ve been having occasional jerks/twitches in various parts of my body, frequently the hand. In fact, if I clench my jaw a certain way now, I can make a muscle in my hand twitch. It’s amazing how different parts of the body work together.

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