|What is Neuromuscular Dentistry?
Neuromuscular dentistry is the study of muscles and nerves of the head and neck to optimize the orthopedic relationship between the upper and lower jaw. Neuromuscular dentists know that a bad bite and wrong posture can lead to constant pain and dysfunction. The treatments are designed to correct misaligned bites to prevent damage to the teeth and other supporting tissues.
In your first visit to a neuromuscular dentist, they will collect data and determine the routine functioning of the muscles. Electromyography (EMG) data is used to quantify how each muscle group may function for the jaw to open, close and chew. This enables an evaluation of whether the muscles are functioning within an optimal range while at rest or during use. The precise jaw movements are traced using three dimensional jaw tracking data. Changes in jaw movement in the lateral and frontal directions can be measured to 1/10th of a millimeter. Such accuracy is the highlight of neuromuscular dentistry. The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the connection between your jaw and the temporal bones of your skull. Neuromuscular dentists use electrosonography to listen to the opening and closing of the TMJ to find out whether pathology exists within the joint space. In case pathology is heard, it may point toward a problem in the way in which teeth fit together. The poor position of the teeth often causes them to click and pop, which may even be heard. Once your dentist has collected and examined data, they will be able to identify the new optimal bite position.
Treatment plans designed by neuromuscular dentists are aimed at addressing the precise issue with the jaw joint, muscle, or tooth position. They can rectify bite abnormalities by enabling jaws to settle into their optimal position for the long term. The muscles of your head and neck naturally know exactly how to contract in order to bite. Neuromuscular treatments help the muscles forget their poor positioning and enable function in the best contractile zone. This is achieved using a Transcutaneous Electrical Neural Simulation (TENS) unit, which is also called a J5 Myomonitor. The TENS unit sends signals to the muscles that contract to make the jaw open, close and chew. This machine gets rid of any learned patterns of chewing, and also provides a therapeutic massage. Moreover, it expels toxins such as lactic acid that tend to collect within the muscles over time. The restful position of the lower jaw is generally determined after 45-60 minutes of therapy. This helps arrive at an optimal range of motion which is driven by muscles and nerves instead of the teeth. Once the restful position is discovered, the optimal bite position is captured. As soon as the muscles successfully forget the “memory” path of contraction, the next step involves stabilizing the bite. The orthopedic bite position enables the bones and muscles of the head and neck to align in the right manner. The new bite position is usually stabilized using orthotic fits over the lower natural teeth.
Neuromuscular treatments require time to generate positive results. If you are experiencing any pain or discomfort near your jaw, schedule an appointment with us at Cooley Smiles by calling us at (425) 249-3509 today.