Neuromuscular Dentistry & TMJ
Traditional dentistry works on our teeth and gums. A neuromuscular dentist does this too, but also works on the nerves and muscles connected to our teeth. These nerves and muscles are also connected to other parts of our head, face, and neck. So pain in one place can be transmitted to a wider area because another branch of the same nerve is involved.
Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome
Also called temporomandibular disorder (TMD).
TMD is a condition that causes much pain and it relates to your bite, the positioning of your jaw, and the muscles that move your jaw. It can be caused by grinding and clenching your teeth over a long enough time period, or by an injury, or by a defective bite.
When your muscles move the jaw inappropriately, many symptoms can result, such as:
- Headaches, often migraines
- Clenching or grinding of your teeth
- Pain, clicking and popping in joints
- Shoulder, neck, and back pain
- Pain and sensitivity in your teeth
- Numbness in your arms and fingers
- Difficulty with swallowing
- Facial pain
- Ringing or congestion in the ears
- Loose teeth
- Receding gums
- Crowded teeth
- Chipped, cracked or worn teeth or fillings
- TMD can chronically destroy one or both joints culminating into dire and debilitating situations that can impair your lifestyle partially or completely permanently.
A sonograph is a diagnostic tool used by neuromuscular dentists. It’s a device you can wear, rather like headphones, which records the sounds made by your jaw when it moves. These sounds can be measured as to quality, quantity and location, and with this information we can evaluate any joint damage that’s happened.
This treatment is repeated so we can measure the difference in your jaw sounds before and after treatment.
If you have TMJ
Our first goal will be to find the position of the jaw where your muscles are relaxed. To do that we first use a Myo-Monitor. This is a device that sends mild low frequency electrical impulses to the muscles, which relaxes them.
When muscles are relaxed, blood flow in the area increase, which in turn increases the flushing out of toxins, restoring health to the head and neck and ultimately the bite and dentition.
After about 45 minutes of muscle treatment, your jaw will be truly relaxed, and at that point we can use our diagnostic equipment to record its position. Our computerized scanning unit, K7 creates a 3-D diagram, from which we can make a model of your teeth and jaws in their relaxed position.
Then we can make an orthotic
An orthotic is a device that provides support for weakened or ineffective joints or muscles. For instance, some people wear orthotics in their shoes, to help keep their feet at the best angle as they walk.
This dental orthotic is worn for about 3 months, and it will allow your jaw to close to its relaxed position, rather than to its old habitual tense position. In the relaxed position, the jaw muscles are at an ideal length and will heal without any further spasms. The joint capsules will heal and pain will recede. All of this stabilizes your bite.
After the 3 months are up, you can decide whether to continue wearing an orthotic (a more durable, permanent one), or to have some work done on your teeth, such as:
- Orthodontic treatment
- Replacement of missing teeth
- Crowns and / or veneers on your teeth
- These treatments will help optimize your bite and daily functions.
If you’re suffering from recurring headaches, popping sounds in the jaw, facial pain, or difficulty with swallowing, please call or e-mail us today to schedule your initial consultation.
Your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is where your jaw is connected to the temporal bones of your skull, which are in front of each ear allowing full motion of your jaw.
Problems with your jaw and the muscles in your face that control it are known as temporomandibular disorders (TMD).
Dentists believe these disorders are attributable to possible actions or conditions such as grinding, clenching, chewing or arthritis putting a lot of pressure on the joints.
Conservative treatments do not invade the tissues of the face, jaw, or joint, or involve surgery. Reversible treatments do not cause permanent changes in the structure or position of the jaw or teeth. Even when TMD have become persistent, most patients still do not need aggressive types of treatment.
Click to watch testimonial from our TMJ Client Review ~ Philip
There are many different types of treatments for TMD. If your TMD is not better after trying the basic treatments, other suggestions can include:
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) — This therapy uses low-level electrical currents to relax the jaw joint and facial muscles. For some people, this relieves pain.
- Ultrasound — Ultrasound treatment is deep heat that is usually applied to the joint if it’s sore or doesn’t move.
- Trigger-point injections — For this therapy, a dentist injects pain medicine or an anesthetic into tender facial muscles to relieve pain. While the pain medicine is working, you should stretch your jaw muscles with simple exercises.