What is Neuromuscular Dentistry?
The way that your upper and lower teeth come together (also called your bite, or occlusion) is part of a system of teeth, muscles, and joints. If your teeth do not fit together properly (if you have a misaligned bite), the muscles and joints will work harder to get them together.
A misaligned bite often leads to muscles that are overworked when they should be relaxed, leading to various painful conditions.
Neuromuscular dentistry considers the entire system that controls the positioning and function of your jaw. The neuromuscular dentist seeks to establish a physiologic jaw position based on a harmonious relationship of the three main factors affecting occlusion: the teeth, muscles, and jaw joints. The resulting jaw position is called the neuromuscular bite.
Head and neck pain and discomfort associated with TMD/TMJ
Most people don't think to mention the pain in their facial muscles or jaw joints to their dentists. Yet such pain is a common symptom of TMD (Temporomandibular Disorders) or otherwise known as TMJ.
TMJ refers to temporomandibular joints but it is also a common name for a disorder that affects the facial muscles and joints that connect the lower jaw to the skull. A more recent designation for this condition is TMD (Temporomandibular Disorders).
This condition causes pain on both sides of the forehead and sometimes in the neck as well. Other symptoms of TMD may include jaw pain, biting or chewing difficulty or discomfort, reduced ability to open or close the mouth and popping/clicking of the jaw joints during opening and closing.
The National Institute of Health estimates that 5 to 10 percent of Americans suffer from TMD severe enough to warrant treatment. TMD can be caused by tension in the muscles that move the jaw, the way your upper and lower teeth fit together (bite) or in some cases the jaw joints. Any problem that prevents this complex system of muscles, teeth and joints from working properly may result in TMD.
There are many possible causes of TMD. The Neuromuscular Dentist is trained and equipped to diagnose and treat your TMD condition.
Non-invasive tests can aid your dentist to determine whether or not muscle tension, your bite or your jaw joints may be the cause of your TMD and whether treatment by a dentist might resolve your condition. If you suffer more than an occasional pain in the facial, jaw or neck area, it is well worthwhile to talk to a neuromuscular dentist about it.
TMD/TMJ Symptom Self-Quiz
Following are a few of the more common symptoms that may possibly be associated with your TMD. If you have one or more of them, you should visit a Dr. Patel who has specialized training in the field of TMD:
_____Pain in the muscles that control jaw function
_____Jaw pain or tenderness of the jaw
_____Pain in the face or neck
_____Biting or chewing difficulty or discomfort
_____TMJ noise during opening or closing of the jaw
_____Limited opening or locking of the jaw
_____A change in the way the upper and lower teeth fit together
_____Sensitive teeth when no dental problems can be found
____ Pain in and around the ear without infection
Achieving Truly Relaxed Muscles
To help your muscles reach a true relaxed state, a device called the J5 Dental TENS is used to deliver gentle electrical stimulation to your muscles. The J5 or its patient home use version, BNS-40, is a battery operated electrical muscle stimulator. Mild electrical stimulation is delivered through adhesive patch electrodes attached over nerves that control specific muscle groups.
The virtually painless stimulus delivered by the Myomonitor will cause your facial and jaw muscles to twitch or "pulse" once every 1 1/2 seconds. After about 40 to 60 minutes, this electrically induced “exercise” will allow your muscles to overcome their programming and go to a relaxed state.
Why is Evaluation of Physiologic Function Important?
The state of the teeth and the joints often cause the muscles to accommodate for an improper bite. This can lead to intense, chronic pain for the sufferer. By evaluating the physiologic function of your jaw, we can better align the bones and muscles to avoid pain and help you get your life back!