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Changes of sensory and pain thresholds in healthy subjects after mandibular extension at maximum mouth opening: implications for temporomandibular disorders therapy

M. Brunelli, M. Conti, D. Tonlorenzi, G. Traina


There is evidence showing that increasing the vertical dimension of occlusion, or interocclusal distance, reduces pain symptoms in patients with temporomandibular disorders (TMD) and bruxism. The mechanism underlying the analgesic effect is still under investigation. Some researchers propose either a gate mechanism or the activation of the trigemino-cardiac reflex. In this study, sensory and pain thresholds changes in the mandibular district have been evaluated in twenty healthy subjects immediately after 5 minutes of mandibular stretching at maximum opening of the jaw. Results showed a 60% increment in sensory threshold and a 70% increment in pain threshold (p<0.001) compared with the baseline values. The magnitude of the analgesic effect seems proportional to the extent of mandibular opening. These and similar results are discussed as for the implication in the treatment of TMD related symptoms.


mandibular stretching; vertical occlusion; pain threshold; sensory threshold; pain reduction; temporomandibular disorders

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