Ask The Dentist: Cerezen ear implant shown to help alleviate debilitating jaw pain
Dentist Lucy Stock of Gentle Dental Care in Belfast highlights an ear implant designed to stop clenching-related jaw pain
A NEW concept of treating dental pain by placing inserts in the ear has been developed and has been working for many patients for the past five years. Sounds whacky, right? But it works.
Jaw joint pain known as temporomandibular disorder (TMD) can cause debilitating, personality-changing pain that can last for decades. The pain can affect many different areas and radiate around the face, head, neck and even spread down to the bottom of the back. Unfortunately it affects between five and 50 per cent of the population and has many different causes.
Grinders and clenchers are particularly prone to TMD as they can exert huge pressures on their teeth and muscles. The cheek muscle is called the masseter and, to give you an idea of its potential, in 1986 the American Richard Hofmann achieved a bite strength of a massive 975 pounds for two seconds, setting a Guinness Record.
Try squeezing your hand really tight for a minute and you can see how quickly the hand hurts and fatigues. Some people are giving the same workout to their facial muscles when grinding and clenching, so its no wonder that pain occurs and teeth break.
Novel ear inserts called Cerezen look like clear hearing aids, are custom made and fit snugly half way along the ear canal. The idea is that when someone goes to clench or grind their teeth, minute pressures are put on the ear inserts, which sends impulses to the brain and causes a person's mouth to open. After a while this feedback loop is imperceptible to the patient. With the jaws open, a relaxing cascade ripples through the muscles, alleviating muscle and joint pain.
Many TMD suffers have tried countless other treatments, such as bite guards, botox and pain medicines which can help totally, a bit or not at all. The virtually invisible Cerezen ear inserts are specially designed for people whose pain has not responded to traditional treatments or who can't tolerate a bite guard.
You would imagine that after you put inserts into your ear it would also block out sound; however, this is not the case. The inserts are designed with a hollow inner tube to allow sound waves to travel so that hearing is unimpaired.
Happily there are patients that have been able to stop their pain medication after wearing the ear inserts. Initially the cause of your pain would need to be determined and suitability for Cerezen treatment decided upon.