After receiving a doctorate in general dentistry and advanced training in cosmetic and restorative dentistry, I began to look deeper into a newly-emerging specialty known as neuromuscular dentistry.
Neuromuscular Dentistry is based on the understanding that all crainio-facial structures must work harmoniously during chewing, speaking, and in resting positions. Disharmony in one area tends to extend to another, and then another. The problems can be far-reaching and result in potentially costly repairs.
The structures involved include the temporo-mandibular joints (TMJ), muscles, bones and teeth. Without a unified flow among these structures, the eventual results can be severe.
A Neuromuscular Dentist is trained to have a unique understanding of the disruptions to crainio-facial interactions. This area of dentistry enables these dentists to incorporate neuromuscular considerations into restorative and cosmetic dental treatment. This helps patients to avoid problems in the future or correct those they may have been struggling with for years.
For example, the cause of frequent headaches or migraines can be a disparity in one’s dental anatomy. And, it doesn’t take much. Only one millimeter (1/25th of an inch) can disrupt harmonious bite alignment and lead to malocclusion. This disparity can extend out to the facial muscles, jaw joints, and even the structures that involve the ears.
According to ENT Health, a publication of the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery: “Many patients see an ENT (ear, nose, and throat) specialist, or otolaryngologist, convinced that their pain is from an ear infection. When the earache is not associated with a hearing loss and the eardrum looks normal, the ENT specialist will consider the possibility that the pain comes from TMJ.” (https://www.enthealth.org/conditions/temporo-mandibular-joint-tmj-pain/)
Headaches attributed to TMJ disorder occur so frequently and severely that they are often misdiagnosed and treated as migraine. Doctors may fail to look further into the structural issues with the jaw that is often the true trigger point of the pain.
To understand how the jaw joints can be a headache or migraine source, it is necessary to understand malocclusion. This term describes an imperfect positioning of the teeth when the jaw is closed. A misaligned bite moves the jaw joints out of proper alignment, which adds strain on the adjoining muscles. When the muscles in the head and face are affected by the strain, it can potentially lead to a migraine.
In addition to frequent headaches or migraines, symptoms of TMJ disorder can include:
Jaw locking and/or popping
Neck and shoulder pain
Ringing in the ears
Bruxism (teeth clenching or grinding while asleep)
For Michigan smiles, we are so committed to the benefits of neuromuscular dentistry that we have added advanced technology that provides quick, painless diagnosis. This technology also enables us to create the most conservative treatment plans possible.
In our Macomb County dental office, we offer Cone Beam 3D imaging, a system that captures clear, concise and intricate views at the lowest radiation levels possible. In one pass, these images are ideal for the assessment of the jaws and evaluation of the TMJ (jaw joints).
We also use the BioPak system to record the functions and congruity of the upper and lower jaw, jaw joints, and associated muscles at various ranges. This information is a significant aid in proper diagnosis and treatment planning for TMJ disorder as well as sleep disorders and craniofacial pain.
TEKSCAN (T-Scan™) is also featured in our Shelby Twp dental office. T-Scan is the only technology that shows the measured force and the timing of chewing surfaces coming together for the overall bite.
These problems are often overlooked, even by physicians. Too, adults do not realize that bite misalignment can exist even though the teeth appear straight. (This is just one of many reasons I advise people to avoid ‘mail order’ braces!) For example, some flaws, such as an open bite or even crowns being mis-proportioned to the tooth above or below, may not be obvious to the individual.
There is certainly the need to ensure the delicate balance in the mouth when it comes to the muscles, joints, bones and teeth working together. This is what a Neuromuscular dentist can do for you.
If you have frequent headaches, migraines, jaw soreness, ear ringing, dizziness, tingling fingers, neck or shoulder pain, jaw popping or difficulty opening the mouth fully, bite misalignment is likely the culprit. These problems typically worsen without treatment and can lead to chipped, broken, worn or fractured teeth.
To discuss your options and the diagnostic process, call 586-739-2155 or Tap Here to request a no-cost, no-obligation consultation. During this time together, I’ll answer your questions and explain potential treatment.