Neuromuscular dentistry is a form of dentistry that focuses on correcting misalignment of the jaw at the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). While conventional dentistry concentrates on the teeth,gums, and bones, neuromuscular dentistry attempts to solve the root of the misalignment problem(s) by understanding the soft tissues,muscles,and nerves.
Symptoms of temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) include:
- Headaches / migraines
- Facial pain
- Neck and shoulder pain
- Vertigo (dizziness)
- Tic doulereaux (trigeminal neuralgia)
- Bells Palsy
- Unexplained loose teeth
- Sensitive and sore teeth
- Jaw pain
- Limited jaw movement or locking jaw
- Numbness in the fingers and arms
- Worn or cracked teeth
- Clicking or popping in the jaw joints
Neuromuscular dentistry uses computer modeling of the patient's jaw movements. It also uses sonography of the TMJ to check for the extent of joint damage. Surface EMG's are used to verify pre-treatment conditions and if true rest is obtained by TENS. TENS (ultra-low frequency transcutaneous electrical neural stimulation) is used to locate "physiological rest" of the jaw muscles.
Once found the doctor can determine the optimal positioning of the lower jaw to the upper jaw. An orthotic is commonly worn for 3-6 months (24 hours per day) to realign the jaw, at which point orthodontic treatment, use of the orthotic as a "crutch", overlay partial, or othodontic treatment and/ or rehabilitation of the teeth is recommended to correct the teeth and jaw postion.
Because of the additional training needed and because of the complex computer systems, hardware, and handcrafted orthotics, neuromuscular dentistry is more expensive yet more effective. The costs can range from $1500 to $10,000 for usually four to six months of treatment (this does not include any additional orthodontics or reconstructive procedures) TMJ symptoms are generally eliminated with 2 days- 6 weeks.
Neuromuscular dentistry has been very successful in reducing the symptoms of TMD. The success, well documented, is definitive treatment of TMJ as opposed to other treatments that are merely symptomatic.