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Neuromuscular Dentistry

Posted in TMJ Therpy

Neuromuscular dentistry is a therapy that uses advanced technology to determine the ideal position of your Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and the course of therapy that should be used in order to decrease your pain and discomfort associated with TMJ disorder. This concept of dentistry is recognized by the International College of Cranio-Mandibular Orthopedics to treat symptoms and problems associated with the misalignment of the TMJ. While a portion of jaw alignment is due to the way your teeth bite together, other aspects of jaw functioning can be difficult to analyze in a visual manner.

Precise computerized instruments are placed on the patient’s skin around the TMJ to analyze the function of the jaw joint. The muscle that controls the TMJ is a complex muscle that if not functioning correctly can cause referred pain such as:

  • Headaches
  • Neck pain
  • Teeth grinding
  • Back and shoulder muscle pain
  • Problems with posture
  • Jaw clicking, popping or function disorders
  • Abnormal tooth wear

By correcting the function and alignment of the TMJ, neuromuscular dentistry aids dentists and their patients in relieving pain and stress associated with TMJ disorder. Muscle activity is measured using motion analysis and electronic wave sensing. When the proper area of rest is found through the computerized scanning, patients can be outfitted with an oral device that allows them to correctly position their jaw joint in a manner that provides optimal rest to the joint.

Computerized mandibular scanning allows your dentist to pinpoint precise areas in your TMJ that cause head and neck pain, clenching or grinding. Scanning the jaw during movement is part of a comprehensive treatment and analysis of jaw disorders in the dental office.


What is Neuromuscular Dentistry?

Neuromuscular dentistry is a specialized branch of dentistry that focuses on treating the muscles of the face, including the masticatory (jaw), tongue, and mouth muscles. The goal of neuromuscular dentistry is to restore the harmony between the facial muscles and tissues, joints, and the teeth. The “neuro” in “neuromuscular dentistry” points to the fact that the connection between facial nerves and muscles are of paramount importance. Taking the unique facial physiology of patients into account, neuromuscular dentists treat impaired neuromuscular junctions that are interfering with oral functioning and overall health.

Some disorders treated by neuromuscular dentists include temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ disorder), Bell’s palsy, bruxism, and Trigeminal neuralgia. Diagnostic tools like mandibular kinesiography (MKG), electromyography (EMG), and computerized mandibular scanning (CMS) are used to evaluate jaw and neck muscle functioning. Treatment may include trigger-point injections , whereby the dentist injects anesthetic medicine into the facial muscles, or splint therapy whereby a customized bite splint or mouth guard is fitted onto the teeth to prevent teeth grinding and relieve the muscular stress caused by faulty jaw alignment.

Another common neuromuscular dental treatment is transcutaneous electrical neural stimulation (TENS). During TENS treatment, the patient is hooked up to a machine with delivers low voltages of electric current to the facial muscles, relaxing them and relieving pain. Some neuromuscular dental conditions may require surgical intervention. In this case, a neuromuscular dental surgeon or cosmetic dentist who specializes in neuromuscular conditions may perform maxilloplasty (upper jaw surgery) or mandibuloplasty (lower jaw surgery) to correct jaw alignment.

If you are worried about sore jaw muscles, tinnitus, excessive teeth grinding, clicking or popping facial joints, locking jaw, or chronic headaches, you may have a condition that requires treatment by a neuromuscular dentist. Many other conditions can mimic the symptoms of neuromuscular dental conditions and only an experienced neuromuscular dentist will be able to tell you whether jaw or facial muscle dysfunction is the cause of your distress.

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