The Powerful Trigeminal Nerve
The trigeminal cranial nerve (the dental nerve) can arguably be labeled of one of the most important nerves in the body. It provides both movement and sensory signals to large areas of the mouth and face and is the only nerve that progresses directly to the brain and central nervous system without being mediated by a nucleus (a cranial nerve nucleus is a collection of neurons in the brain stem that are associated with one or more cranial nerves).
In other words, a signal from this nerve goes directly to the brain without stopping or being slowed down. It is also responsible for providing the information that almost half of the brain is processing at all times. The real life application of this knowledge is that if a signal is being transmitted to the brain by the trigeminal nerve because there is a “problem” in the area that it serves, the brain has no choice but to pay attention.
Anyone who has felt the pain of a toothache or a blow to the nose understands the powerful message provided to the brain through this nerve. Understanding the implications of this information is one of “the great unknowns” in medicine and dentistry. Ongoing study of the relationships of the trigeminal nerve as it relates to and is affected by the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) as well as the relationships between the joints of the skull and neck might be the final frontier in understanding the dental-structural-neurologic connection.
Use of this knowledge will hopefully be used to improve the lives of those neurologic deficits of a structural origin.
Neurologic implications of migraine, headache and craniofacial pain
There are many research studies to prove the relationships between TMD and headache. One of these studies, performed in conjunction with literature reviews, supported the conclusion that there is in fact significant evidence to support a relationship between headache and temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJD). Of treated TMJD patients in this study, 66% were completely headache free with the remaining 33% rating themselves as vastly improved after a course of treatment involving the anterior repositioning dental orthotic