What is Neuromuscular Dentistry?
Neuromuscular Dentistry is a special form of dentistry involving the alignment of the jaw. For this type of dentistry, Neuromuscular dentists use various treatments to correct the alignment of the jaw, relaxing the muscles in and surrounding the jaw. The purpose of correcting jaw alignment is to relieve symptoms of conditions such as TMJ. Treatments involve the jaw, as well as the neck and head alignment in relation to the teeth and jaw.
During your consultation with Dr. Ken Barney, he will perform a proper evaluation to determine where the problem lies. After the evaluation, he will form a treatment plan to ease the jaw into correct alignment.
Diagnosing In Neuromuscular Dentistry
Neuromuscular dentistry treatments involve the teeth, jaw, head, and neck together as a unit. As opposed to treating solely the jaw, Dr. Barney can customize a plan specifically for you by addressing all of these connected nerves, joints, and muscles. This can correct overbites, painful jaw symptoms, or disorders like TMJ. The following tests are the key to your diagnosis:
- Sonography. This test uses sound waves to determine whether there are any problems with jaw alignment. The dentist also listens for any abnormal sounds emanating from the jaw.
- Electromyography (EMG). This method uses the electricity generated by jaw muscles to measure both muscle and nerve function. It can help the dentist see when there is a reaction (such as pain) to movement.
- Special computerized test equipment is used to measure the correct resting position of the jaw, identifying misalignment problems.
What Does Neuromuscular Dentistry Treat?
While there are many issues surrounding the jaw and the bite, neuromuscular dentistry focuses on treating:
- Bite Abnormalities. Neuromuscular dentists create long-term treatment plans that focus on correcting the position of the jaw. These treatment plans are specialized for each patient, so some plans may last longer and cost more than others. Some of these methods include dental splits, restorations, or neuromuscular orthodontic devices.
- Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMD). Some dentists choose to use ultralow-frequency transcutaneous electrical neural stimulation (TENS) to relieve and treat the muscle spasms and pain that come with TMD. The mild electrical stimulation relaxes the jaw muscles and allows for jaw pain to be relieved.
Neuromuscular Dentistry Treatments
The most common treatments provided with Neuromuscular Dentistry include the following:
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. Small electrical pulses are delivered to the jaw muscles. These pulses stimulate the nerves, encouraging muscles to relax and the jaw to align.
- Cosmetic Dentistry or Surgery. This includes procedures that can straighten teeth to align the jaw, remove teeth to create more room for proper alignment, or surgically move the jaw forward.
- TMJ Exercises. Jaw problems can often be attributed to stress, which causes people to tighten their jaw muscles. Patients will perform jaw exercises in order to stimulate and relax the jaw muscles.
- Lifestyle changes such as, stress reduction techniques or personal care solutions that will improve jaw pain.
How To Know If I Suffer From TMJ?
In order to determine if you have TMJ, Dr. Barney will need to perform a proper evaluation. Jaw pain can be caused by different problems, and not all are related to TMJ disorders. Dr. Barney can help you to properly diagnose what is causing your jaw pain and decide whether it requires action.
TMJ can be the cause if you experience any of the following symptoms regularly along with jaw pain:
- Consistent headaches
- Stiff jaw
- Jaw pain
- Jaw cracking or squeaking sounds
- Ear ringing
- Unintentional teeth grinding
- Neck, shoulder, or finger nerve pain or spasms