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Pieces to Wholeness

Health and happiness improve when we see the whole of man, rather than piece by piece.

There can be inadvertent side effects just by the method in which health care is organized. Patients can help their own vitality by taking charge of their health, listening to their body, and knowing potential side effects of medications.

  • TMJ pain is nagging and annoying enough, but like other chronic pain, a component of depression can creep in to complicate matters.

  • Patients with TMJD (temporomandibular joint dysfunction) are sometimes prescribed antidepressants for their TMJ pain.

  • Bruxing (grinding of the teeth), can be one of the side effects of antidepressants such as: fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), and paroxetine (Paxil), which eventually creates a vicious circle.

  • The same prescribed medications that are meant to help people cope with depression have reported side effects of muscle tension, soreness, and anxiety which seems similar to the symptoms my TMJ patients describe.

There’s more:

  • Frequently, NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as ibuprofen, are recommended to alleviate TMJ pain, soreness in the jaw and teeth with braces. The combination of NSAIDs and antidepressants strongly increases the incidence of stomach symptoms.*

Your healthcare provider should be consulted for pain-relieving medication that is appropriate for you. Patients should not take themselves off prescribed medication without first talking to their doctor.

The opportunity to help guide a person towards increased well being AND healthier teeth is gratifying to me but you can start at home by asking yourself a few questions:

  • What is the source of my health issues in the first place?

  • Where am I at with my health?

  • What is my body telling me that it really needs?

  • What’s a step that I can take today towards better health and happiness?

Just last week, one of my patients with many years of TMJ sores and shifting teeth told me that she has been working on her posture**. She took the initiative and got an ergonomic assessment at work and started eating “clean food for fibromyalgia”. She used to get home exhausted at the end of the day and now she has plenty of energy.

What changes can you make?

I have first hand knowledge of body aches, TMJ pain, and the feeling of being stuck with depression. The key for me was learning tools to work with stress and anxiety directly, such as identifying triggers***, dreams****, meditating, and practicing meditation posture. Clenching and grinding your teeth cuts off the circulation to your jaw joint and leads to long term consequences. Surgery for the TM joint is not predictable at this time, why go that far down the path though? Taking steps towards balance and a relaxed body and mind makes sense.

You are already whole. You are not pieces of a body. You are so much more You are not broken and you never were.

For more information on:

* interaction between NSAID’s and antidepressants visit:

This article is meant to inform through thoughts and experiences, both personal and professional and should not be taken as actual health care. Dr. Evelyn Maruko has personally dealt with TMJ pain, clenching, stress, anxiety, and depression. In addition to her dental degrees, Dr. Maruko received her BS in Psychobiology from USC, a Masters Degree in Public Health from Harvard, a Master Science Degree from Northwestern, and a certificate in Jungian Psychology Coaching. She is deeply concerned about emotional stress and damage that it causes to the body. After many years in private orthodontic practices, she sees the important need to work with the mind for both one’s health and happiness.

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