Neuromuscular dentistry looks at the complex relationship between your teeth, jaw joints and muscles to correct a misaligned bite, relieve painful conditions and improve your smile.
What is Neuromuscular Dentistry?
A neuromuscular dentist considers the entire system that governs the positioning and function of your jaws. The idea is to establish a jaw position based on a harmonious relationship of the teeth, muscles and joints. In doing this your dentist can correct a misaligned bite or relieve a painful condition while improving your smile.
How can this treatment help me?
The way your upper and lower teeth come together (your bite or occlusion) is part of a system of teeth, muscles and joints. If your teeth do not fit together properly, the muscles and joints have to work hard to get them together. A misaligned bite often causes muscles to be overworked when they should be relaxed, and the result can be a number of painful conditions including headaches, jaw pain, neck and shoulder pain, tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, and clicking or popping sounds in the jaw joint.
What’s involved in neuromuscular treatment?
Your dentist begins by relaxing the muscles around the jaw and neck and shoulders with the mild electrical stimulus from a TENS (Myomonitor) device. Your dentist may then conduct tests with computerised technology to discover a detailed picture of how your muscles and joints are working.
What sort of tests can I expect?
Computerised Mandibular Scanning or Jaw Tracking allows your dentist to measure and study the way your jaw opens and closes through its full range of motion. Electromyography (EMG) tests provide information on the activity of key muscles that control the jaw. Sonography may also be used to investigate the joint.
Muscles in Dentistry
How muscles affect your occlusion- Your jaw posturing muscles may be overworked in attempting to maintain your present “programmed” position, even when you think they are relaxed. Head posture can also affect your occlusion and muscles that control the head posture are primarily in the neck and the upper back. Taken together, these conditions can lead to a variety of problems including a less than ideal bite, muscle pain or dysfunction, or jaw joint problems.
How the muscles are relaxed-
Because the muscles controlling the jaw are subconsciously “programmed” by the brain, most individuals have difficulty consciously reaching a truly relaxed state.
To help your muscles reach that relaxed state, a device called a Myomonitor is used is used to deliver gentle electrical stimulation to your muscles. It is battery operated and the mild stimulation is delivered through adhesive patch electrodes attached over nerves that control specific muscle groups.
The virtually painless stimulus will cause your facial and jaw muscles to twitch once every one and a half seconds and after 45-60 minutes your muscles will overcome their programming and go to a relaxed state.
Getting your bite right–
Now, that your muscles are relaxed, we record the relaxed jaw position of you jaw by placing fast setting putty between your teeth. The dentist can now compare your usual occlusion (bite) with the relaxed jaw position to evaluate if your jaw is presently in a near optimal position and determine whether the occlusion should be adjusted.
What happens after the tests?
The information gathered from your tests is used to help determine the precise point at which your jaw should be in relation to your upper teeth. This information is used to determine whether your bite should be left as is or adjusted to a more optimal position.
Once your dentist has determined where your new bite should be, you will be given a plastic appliance called an “orthotic”. Like a mouth guard, it’s worn over time to gently reposition your jaw, keeping your bite in its new position. Sometimes a more permanent treatment is required to adjust your bite and your dentist will discuss this with you.