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What Do Cheating, Beef Jerky, and Wild Horses Have in Common?

Get Present for a Healthier TMJ!

What do you think is really driving the cheating scandal to get into top schools? In movies, we frequently see reference to Harvard or Princeton as the cultural ideal. Is a movie writer reflecting our cultural ideals or the other way around?

The pressure to fit in, the pressure to succeed, the pressure to be culturally successful.

Psychologist, Abraham Maslow, would call someone who is culturally successful: “self-actualized.” But does that really make a person happy? And to what length are people willing to go?

I think many of the psychogenic issues that people experience have to do with this conflict. As an orthodontist, I see TMJ symptoms on a daily basis. They are just one of the mind-body issues that people experience, meaning that the origin lies in the mind and not in the body. It is just one of many causes of TMJ pain yet it can be debilitating.

In conversations with my dental colleagues, they see it as a big issue, and the cause of many dental failures. This makes sense because:

  1. Teeth are meant to be in contact only when there is food in the mouth.

  2. The teeth, muscle, joint, and dental restorations were never meant to carry the load of the strongest muscles in the body by weight.

  3. This muscle is the masseter, which can deliver a force of 200 pounds on the molars.

Imagine the damage that can be done, and the resiliency of the body that it does not break down after just an hour or one night. Personally, I think some people clench so hard that their muscles probably look like beef jerky, all dry, no circulation, no blood flow. No wonder it doesn’t feel good and they're in pain.


Technically, TMJ symptoms are primarily related to pain or diminished functions of the structures involved with chewing, including muscles and joint. I think things go much deeper into our society and how it shapes the individual.

The mind can acts like a wild horse, chasing after what society wants, not what you want.

Do you really think that graduating from a top school will solve a person’s problem? It most definitely will not, but it might amplify them, especially if that is not where you were meant to be. As a Harvard graduate, I can tell you, there were people who loved every moment and people who were miserable. Choosing what you love, not what someone else told you would be good for you will carry you through the hard times.

What does it mean for you to thrive? In what environment? And does that match with what you are doing now? Isn’t that worth a little exploration? I think it is more about looking deep within yourself, letting things emanate from the inside out.

Below is a seven-minute stress break to help focus and relax the mind and body in order to help you find your true center.

It’s important to check with a professional because TMJ symptoms can overlap with other issues. According to Dr. Harry Karna, Orofacial Pain Specialist, the etiology can be

  1. Stress

  2. External trauma

  3. Motor Abnormalities

  4. Polyjoint Arthritis

  5. Connective Tissue Disease

  6. Autoimmune

  7. Neoplasia

  8. Developmental or Growth Abnormalities

  9. Daytime Habitual Behavior

  10. Infection

  11. Protective Muscle Reflex

  12. Idiopathic

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. 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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