In neuromuscular dentistry (NMD), our dentists evaluate a patient’s occlusion, sometimes referred to as bite. The way the top and bottom teeth come together affects the muscles and joints of the jaw, head, and neck area. If a patient has a misaligned bite (malocclusion), their muscles and joints have to work extra hard to accommodate for the misalignment. As a result, muscles are working, when they should be relaxed, and this can lead to a variety of painful conditions, including bruxism and temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ).
What Is Neuromuscular Dentistry?
Neuromuscular dentistry uses techniques outside of traditional dentistry practices and evaluates more than a patient’s teeth and gums. A neuromuscular dentist looks at the entire system that affects a patient’s occlusion (joints, muscle, and teeth) to determine the patient’s relaxed bite position, which is called the neuromuscular bite. With this information, we’re able to provide effective treatment to achieve healthier occlusion and reduced symptoms.
What to Expect During a Neuromuscular Dentistry Appointment?
During an NMD appointment, our dentist uses transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) therapy, which helps relax a patient’s muscles. A TENS device, called a myomonitor, relaxes a patient’s muscles around the jaw, neck, and upper back, which reveals a patient’s neuromuscular bite. Our dentist then compares this to the patient’s normal bite.
Our dentist might also use a computer scanning technology to observe the function of a patient’s muscles and joints to measure and study the pattern of the jaw, as it opens, closes, and moves through its full range of motion. Electromyography, which records muscle activity, might also be used to evaluate jaw function. In addition, our dentist might use sonography to assess the neuromuscular system.
With the aggregate information from these tests and evaluations, our dentist can assess the precise, proper alignment of the patient’s jaw and teeth to recommend corrective treatments and/or treatments to reduce symptoms associated with malocclusion.
Treatment for Malocclusion
Treatments depend greatly on each specific case and the patient’s goals. You might be prescribed a custom-made oral device (orthotic) designed to help you keep your jaw in a properly relaxed position. In other cases, at-home TENS therapy might be prescribed. In severe cases, corrective surgery might be recommended.
Is Neuromuscular Dentistry Right for You?
Not every patient requires NMD to maintain healthy teeth. For patients experiencing symptoms of TMJ disorder, preparing for a reconstructive surgery, or getting dentures or orthodontics, using accurate neuromuscular diagnostic techniques will result in more favorable long-term treatment outcomes.
If you’d like to learn more about neuromuscular dentistry and the treatments we offer at Dr. Christopher J. Fotinos Cosmetic & General Dentistry, we welcome you to contact our office or schedule a consultation today.