When an individual has a knee problem, an orthopedic specialist is seen. When a foot problem arises, a podiatrist is typically seen. However, when frequent headaches and migraines occur, there seem to be a variety of specialists to consider… a neurologist, an ophthalmologist, or a neuromuscular dentist.
Although the specialized skills of a neuromuscular dentist are not widely known, this specialist can provide a unique assessment that is often overlooked when it comes to the cause of many headaches and migraines.
A neuromuscular dentist has advanced training in the congruity of all structures affected by bite misalignment, including TMJ disorders. And, as a neuromuscular dentist who has devoted herself to the highest level of training in this area, I’ve also incorporated advanced features and technology to aid in the proper diagnosis of bite disparities.
This means that we can find the true source of your pain and treat it using the most conservative measures needed.
These ‘futuristic’ technologies provide clear, concise views of the unique interactions taking place within your mouth as it is in various positions. Having the ability to track the combined movements of muscles, teeth, bones and joints during chewing and in a resting position, we can determine if a patient’s temporomandibular joints (TMJ) are the true source of headaches, migraines, facial pain, and even night-time clenching and grinding (bruxism).
Neuromuscular dentistry is actually a logical fit when it comes to headache triggers. After all, the delicate balance of bite alignment plays a significant role in the function of the jaw joints. A misaligned bite actually triggers a domino effect, transferring stress and strain to the jaw joints. This can lead to muscle pain and cause inner ear inflammation, which, in turn, can lead to dizziness, vertigo and ear ringing. Muscle tension can also radiate to neck and shoulder muscles.
The jaw joints hinge the lower jaw (mandible) to the skull. They fail to be truly appreciated for the near-constant action they must undergo in a given day. Think about it – every time you bite, chew, or speak, these hinges rotate inside the joints. If you snore, your TMJ move during the night as well.
Just how much, or little, of a disparity in the bite can lead to all these issues? It can take as little as a millimeter (1/25th of an inch) to create this domino effect.
People who suffer with TMJ disorders often find themselves with debilitating discomfort, sometimes head pain that is constant. Migraines can become so frequent that a sufferer has to alter his or her lifestyle.
The presence of TMJ disorders can be missed in the basic dentistry methods of a bite check. For example, during your 6-month check-ups, a general dentist typically watches how the teeth meet as you are reclined in a treatment chair. You are probably asked to, “Bite up and down” or side to side as he or she visually observes the movement. Yet, it’s often what is not visually apparent that is causing the problems associated with TMJ disorder.
How is TMJ disorder correctly determined?
As a neuromuscular dentist I combine advanced training with amazingly precise technology that reveals the very source of this pain. It may be that your TMJ is not the problem. However, if it is, this technology shows exactly where it is and why it occurs.
In our Shelby Township dental office, the diagnostic process is painless and much faster than outdated, “best guess” methods often used in dentistry. For example, we use:
CONE BEAM 3D imaging offers intricate, concise views far and beyond what a typical ‘bite wing’ or even Panorex (jaw to jaw) affords. In a single scan, this technology is able to produce three-dimensional (3D) images of your teeth, soft tissues, nerve pathways and bone. These images, which include bone as well as soft tissues, are most often generated for:
• ideal assessment of the jaws
• evaluation of the temporomandibular joints (TMJ)
• review of airway passages
• views of bone structure damage or bone loss
• examination of teeth and facial structures
• lower wisdom teeth in proximity to the mandibular (lower jaw) nerve canal
• evaluation of teeth and bone for signs of infections, cysts, or tumors
Cone beam images are “low dose radiation” with no radiation remaining in the body after the scan.
The BioPak system records the functions and congruity of the upper and lower jaw, jaw joints, and associated muscles at various ranges. This aids in proper diagnosis and treatment planning for temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction, sleep disorders and craniofacial pain – with results available the same day.
TEKSCAN (T-Scan™) Digital Occlusal Analysis
Unlike the method of checking one’s bite through ‘articulating paper,’ T-Scan is the only technology that shows the measured force and the timing of occlusal surfaces coming together, providing a clear picture of the patient’s bite. T-Scan reveals the level and timing of force on individual teeth and the stability of the overall bite to:
• Detect problem areas associated with facial pain and tooth sensitivity
• Enhance longevity of crowns, bridges, and veneers
• Optimize implant placement
• Screen patients for balanced occlusion and tracks throughout treatment
• Reduce repeat visits
Patients appreciate seeing their bite data on the screen, providing greater understand of how the forces on the screen correlate to what they feel in their mouths!
If you suspect you are clenching or grinding at night or have sore jaw joints, facial pain, or frequent headaches (and even migraines), consider a free consultation appointment in our comfortable, modern dental office. We provide complete dentistry for all needs, including cosmetic and implant dentistry and are always pleased to welcome new patients!
Call 586-739-2155 or tap here to begin.