Neuromuscular Dentistry: Introduction
Traditional concepts of achieving pain-free oral and ‘natural’ function center on the mouth and teeth and do not give the relief many people need. Neuromuscular dentistry combines our knowledge of the functional aspects of the mouth and teeth with jaw, oral, and facial muscle healing and harmonizing therapies.
Take the Self-Assessment of TMJ Symptoms to see if you might have the symptoms of a neuromuscular disorder. Many of our clients come to us after being diagnosed with a disorder called TMJ. TMJ problems are also often attributed to how the jaw joints function in relationship to your teeth. Neuromuscular dentistry is a different and, as we have seen, a more successful way to treat this type of problem.
The Neuromuscular Difference
Rehabilitating teeth can improve the feel and function of your smile; however, building up or restoring teeth might only help to revert the jaw back to a habitual position not its proper position. Therefore, relief from pain can be short lived. Neuromuscular dentistry is focused on returning your oral function to a proper position that is comfortable for the long-term. The following information will give you insights into this potentially life-changing treatment.
Comprehensive Treatment Planning
Our goal is to not just create beautiful smiles, but to create natural-looking and feeling smiles that last. This challenge results from the need to give someone a comprehensive solution when they only expect small ‘repairs’ to be done.
Much like only making patches to a deteriorated foundation of a building rather than complete restoration, traditional dentistry is usually focused on fixing localized problems. This type of treatment only extends the likelihood of dentures or significant crowning of teeth. These ‘minimal repairs’ are not long-term solutions for achieving pain freedom or preserving natural teeth, which are the kind of results our clients now expect.
We believe that neuromuscular dentistry is part of a comprehensive assessment of oral health to prepare the foundation of your smile for the additional benefits of modern restorative and esthetic solutions. We begin the treatment of every patient with a comprehensive exam, carefully planning for the conservation of your natural tooth structure. While not everyone will choose this level of care, we feel our patients deserve this comprehensive option.
How Neuromuscular Dentistry Relieves Pain
Instead of thinking about teeth, imagine someone riding a bike that has a good, comfortable and sturdy seat. The longer the rider rides the bike the more deteriorated the seat becomes. Depending on the original materials and what kind of other factors affected the materials (weather, the rider’s routines and size, bumps in the road, etc.), different types of damage will occur. As the deterioration of the seat increases, the rider will need to adjust their sitting habits.
This adjustment can cause strain on the muscles. Because we as ‘riders’ can never get off our bikes, we find the most comfortable position to sit. This is the habitual position for riders. In this position they find some relief, but having the seat in its original condition would work better. Of course, other ‘riders’ are forced into this position because of the ‘original design’ of their bikes or factors completely beyond their control.
Now imagine your jaw being locked in the wrong position for many years. When this occurs, some muscles shrink and others expand. This causes tension and pain. Getting back to the habitual position can give some relief. On the other hand, comprehensive restoration of teeth and the harmonization of the neuromuscular condition of your jaw and surrounding muscles through our relaxation therapies can do much more.
Are You a Candidate for Neuromuscular Exam?
There are two situations where a neuromuscular exam might be recommended. First, people with head, neck or shoulder pain, chronic sensitive teeth (tooth) to hot and cold or other neuromuscular discomforts could be helped by this exam. Second, those considering restorative and/or cosmetic dentistry also can benefit from this comprehensive assessment to prevent neuromuscular conditions from arising.