How is SOMA mouthguard effective in treating temporomandibular problems?

Cranial deficiencies, neck pain, neck stiffness, jaw mal alignment and temporomandibular dysfunction (TMD) are ordinary structural findings in some orthodontic patients today. In addition, many individuals have structural imbalances that cause poor functioning in the body’s nervous system.

Studies have proved that a significant proportion of orthodontic patients present with temporomandibular disorders or jaw joint disorders, before treatment. Since the cause of these temporomandibular diseases is multifactorial, there is a lack of data on its management before the beginning of orthodontic treatment.

Certain malocclusions may relate to temporomandibular joint dysfunctions, not specifically dental. In many cases, it is assumed that the correction of the jaw alignment will correct any dental discrepancies. However, interdisciplinary management of orthodontic and dental restorative dysfunctions are required.

Keeping the aforementioned in mind, a SOMA mouthguard was invented by Dr Joseph Da Cruz. According to him, most orthodontic appliances fix the malaligned bone. However, the SOMA appliance acts on the concerned musculature as well. Dr Joseph believes that Controlling the proper eruption of teeth in the correct environment makes life a lot simpler for a patient.

The splint orthopaedic myofunctional appliance or SOMA dental appliance works on the growth and development of the face, not the bones of the jaw alone. It fixes the causes of any structural pathology and the airway, maintains nose-breathing (not mouth-breathing) by keeping the lips sealed and by retaining the tongue in place. These parameters ensure an excellent growth of a child. Straightening or aligning of the teeth becomes secondary.

This orthodontic splint therapy follows the principle that forces must not be applied against the directions of biological growth. Dr Joseph believes when the veins and arteries supplying the brain are under excessive pressure, such as with a headgear appliance, the body goes into a stress mode and releases hormones accordingly, thus restricting optimum growth.

When a clinician/dentist adopts the SOMA method, the focus is directed towards the optimal development of the patient. The first step is to correct any disruption in nerve-related and immunity-related paths, which then relaxes the muscles and removes the pressure on the bones. For instance, if the cause of crowded teeth is maladapted facial muscles, there are minimal measures required to align and straighten the teeth, after its treatment.

Mouth breathing is a physiologic reaction to a stuffy/congested nose or during extreme exercise. Normally, human beings are created to breathe through their noses. (unless a structural or chemical deviation hinders the process) Mouth breathing while sleeping can prove fatal too. While we sleep, our muscle tone is at its lowest, and the jaw muscles are relaxed. The lower jaw moves backwards and may stop abruptly due to poor dental occlusion (the way the upper and lower teeth meet). In addition, enlarged tonsils, a tongue that’s fallen back, or a narrowed airway can hinder breathing. This can collapse the chest in young, developing individuals.

As quoted by DR Cruz, the benefits produced by the SOMA are far more than just orthodontic and cosmetic. The SOMA has helped relieve various types of chronic pain, respiratory issues, neck and spine problems, neurological dysfunctions, and immune system conditions. In addition, the SOMA creates more airway space, thus improving swallowing, breathing, speech, and sleep.

However, the Splint Orthopaedic Myofunctional Appliance relies on the fact that straightening of teeth must be undertaken after a child has completely developed.

Hence, close monitoring and proper attention to the sequential eruption of teeth during infancy and childhood are paramount to avoid poor occlusion and faulty architecture. This can ensure proper jaw position, which indirectly or directly controls the airway passage by way of tongue position. Unattended faulty tongue position could lead to mouth breathing and pathological eruption of teeth.

The focus of Dr Cruz and Dr John Diamond in creating SOMA is beyond straight teeth; it is on nerve-study, growth patterns, breathing and sleep patterns. When the pressure is removed from both- blood flow and nerves of the skull, the bones grow into positions that ensure optimum nasal breathing and proper head balance on the neck. Thereafter, the person’s hormones come into equilibrium and they can sleep, breathe and swallow appropriately.

Your friendly Canberra dentist at Molonglo Dental Surgery believes the use of the Splint Orthopaedic Myofunctional Appliance or SOMA in a patient ensures his/her primary corrections are retained despite a stressful environment around. Hence, holistic growth and comprehensive recovery of the patient begins with the use of SOMA or the Splint Orthopaedic Myofunctional Appliance.


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