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Neuromuscular Dentistry / TMJ Treatments


Neuromuscular dentistry differs from “traditional” dentistry in the emphasis that is placed upon the activity of the muscles that move the jaw. Unlike neuromuscular dentistry, traditional dentistry uses the position that the teeth come together, and the position where the jaw joint is located in a joint space in the skull as a reference point to restore the teeth.

Neuromuscular dentistry recognizes that the muscles that move the jaw must be in a comfortable, relaxed position in order to not be in conflict with the teeth and joint.

Common symptoms that occur when teeth, jaws, and muscles are in conflict include:

  • Headaches
  • Loose teeth
  • Worn, chipped, cracked teeth, or fillings
  • Clenching or grinding
  • Ditched root grooves
  • Pain or clicking, and popping in joints
  • Shoulder, neck, and back pain
  • Numbness in arms and fingers
  • Pain behind the eyes
  • Facial pain
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Pain and sensitivity in teeth
  • Crowded teeth
  • Receding gums
  • Ringing or congestion in the ears

We utilize a number of sophisticated instruments in our practice of neuromuscular dentistry to find the position of the jaw where the jaws, teeth, and muscles operate in harmony.

The first goal of neuromuscular dentistry is to find the position of the jaw where the muscles are relaxed and at rest. This is a three dimensional position in space, and is often irrespective to the position of the teeth.

Dr. Thomas utilizes a device called a Myo-Monitor to relax the muscles. It is a low frequency T.E.N.S. (Transcutaneous Electrical Neural Stimulation) unit. This device delivers a mild electrical impulse to the muscles that move the jaw. The rhythmic pulsing (once every 1.5 seconds) relaxes the muscles. In addition to relaxing the muscles, it sets up ideal muscle function by increasing blood flow, flushing out toxins. We often find that after 45 minutes of stimulation, the muscles are in their ideal position.

At this point we utilize the K-7, our computerized diagnostic equipment to record this position and transfer it to casts or models of your teeth.

The Computerized Mandibular Scanning Unit utilizes a magnet placed in front of your lower front teeth and a sensor array to measure and record this ideal position in three dimensions.

The Eight Channel Electro-myograph is used to verify that this new position results in decreased muscle activity. Muscle activity is measured by recording the amount of electrical activity in individual muscles.

Once we have verified the comfortable position of the lower jaw, we can fabricate an orthotic that allows the jaw to close to this ideal position. In this position, the muscles are at an ideal length and will not go into spasm; muscles will heal, pain trigger points will go away, and joint capsules will heal. This orthotic is left in place for three months to stabilize the bite and ensure that all symptoms are gone.

At this point, a decision is made to wear the orthotic indefinitely, have orthodontics done to move the teeth to this ideal position, have one or two arches of teeth restored, or to adjust the bite to this ideal.