With an estimated 10 million Americans suffering from the debilitating condition known as temporomandibular joint dysfunction, that’s a whole lot of pain and suffering put upon our already stressed-out society. Unfortunately, many people with temporomandibular joint dysfunction (or TMJ dysfunction for short) either don’t realize they have it or have resigned themselves to believe they are stuck with it for life with no way to treat it. Thankfully, this is no longer true thanks to a specialized treatment plan called neuromuscular dentistry or neuromuscular orthodontics.
Neuromuscular dentistry works to not just eliminate the pain of TMJ dysfunction, but also to better align the upper body, including the head and neck. That balance helps to achieve the goal of less pain throughout the body that is typically caused by TMJ disorder. This can include headaches, neck pain, back pain, jaw stiffness and tightness, the inability to open and close the jaw, tinnitus or ringing of the ears, and even teeth grinding (also known as bruxism).
How is it done?
Neuromuscular dentistry is a special form of dentistry that sounds complicated but works under simple principles. The jaw is measured through several different techniques to determine the ideal positioning of the jaw and surrounding musculature. Some of the procedures you may hear about or may have already heard about include:
TENS: This is a very low-frequency machine that uses electric currents to stimulate the muscles of the jaw. It helps to relieve pain and spasming in the jaw muscles.
Electromyography: Electromyography may be used to determine the activity that occurs in the jaw muscles during certain movements.
Sonography: Sonography measures joint derangements by measuring the vibrations of the jaw when opening and closing the mouth.
Jaw Tracking: This approach takes three-dimensional measurements of the movements of the mandibles.
With these measurements, we are better able to determine the best alignment of the jaw. Then the actual treatment begins. Treatment is determined based on a case-by-case, individual basis, but all with the goal of not just alleviating TMJ pain, but also better aligning the smile and the rest of the body so that optimal comfort and a beautiful smile are the result.
To learn more about neuromuscular dentistry and how it can help your TMJ dysfunction, please contact Dr. Mingus at 541-382-6565.