Where's the Link between TMJ and Speech?

As I settle into my new blog, I was thinking it would be helpful for my readers to know a little bit about the “Patient” who is doling out such great advice!  But you can be the judge of that.  And rather than bore you (or bore myself) with a long wordy 32 year history, I am going to squeeze 32 years of “Patient Drama” and angst into a ten minute blog.

Thirty-two years ago I had never even heard of TMJ, but I would quickly learn that I have it.  Or did I have TMJ?  In some years I was not even sure that I fit the classic definition of TMJ….typically the clicking in the jaw, pain in the jaw joints, etc…..did not seem to fit me. I did not have any of those classic telltale signs.  But along the way, and from talking to other TMJ sufferers, I have never heard of any two cases that were the same.

For me, it started when I had my wisdom teeth out.  Then after my Wisdom Teeth extraction, and a few days later, I noticed my bite did not quite feel the same.  Let’s just say, that the wisdom teeth extraction probably left a void in my gums….then my teeth shifted just enough, to throw my bite off.  I’m sure a real Dentist would describe this in more clinical language, but this is really the long and the short of it.

Interestingly, one of the side effects of this “new” bite I had was increasing difficulty with speech.  And how come none of the other TMJ patients or TMJ books that I have read, nobody ever says that TMJ effected their speech?  People would look at me and say “you sound fine,” so this really has been an ongoing quiet drama for more years, than I would like.  I actually started to speak less.

Which leads me to another observation that I made…..and that is, if there are crossover complications between TMJ and Speech……then why is it that Dentists know so little about how teeth and jaw positioning can effect speech.  And conversely…..none of the Speech Pathologists I spoke to had ever considered that speech could be adversely effected by a malocclusion.