What is neuromuscular dentistry?
Neuromuscular dentistry is the area of dentistry that focuses on the harmony between your jaw and the alignment of your bite. With a healthy bite, there is a working relationship between your facial muscles, jaw joint and teeth. If any one part does not function correctly, your bite can become misaligned (called a malocclusion). When this happens, the muscles in your jaw and the joint itself are overworked and strained when aligning your teeth to bite and chew. If this problem continues, it can lead to problems like temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD).
How can I tell if my bite is misaligned?
Diagnostic tests such as jaw measurements, computer imaging and modeling of your bite and X-rays of your jaw structure can indicate if there is a problem. Symptoms are also an effective way to recognize if you may have a misaligned bite.
If you experience any of the following, visit your dentist for an evaluation fo your bite:
- Jaw popping
- Headaches or dizziness
- Unexplained neck pain, facial or shoulder pain
- Damaged fillings or other dental restorations
- Ringing in your ears
- Crowed, sensitive or loose teeth
- Grinding of your teeth
- Loss of feeling in your arms
- Receding gums
How can my bite become misaligned?
Your jaw may become misaligned for many reasons. Maybe you suffered a blow to the head from a sport or accident, which knocked your joint out of position. Genetic and developmental factors can also cause misalignment, as can tooth grinding over a period of time. Misaligned teeth can also gradually lead to this condition, since your jaw muscles are struggling to bring your upper and lower teeth together every time you close your mouth.
What are my treatment options?
Once you have been diagnosed with TMD, Dr. Patti Swaintek-Lamb will work with you to determine your best course of treatment. Typically treatment will follow three steps:
- Relieve pain and muscle spasms: The primary concern for neuromuscular dentists is to provide pain relief. One of the best ways is with the TENS machine, which relaxes your muscles through gentle massage. The rhythmic pulsing increases blood flow, pumps out waste products and stimulates your body’s production of endorphins; a natural anesthetic.
- Stabilize your bite: This can be done by wearing a plastic dental orthotic worn over your teeth to stabilize your bite.
- Long-term management: This can be done through orthodontics like Invisalign® or a full mouth restoration to restore each tooth.
If you live in the Morristown, New Jersey area and you are suffering from a misaligned bite, please contact Aesthetic Dentistry of Bernardsville online or by phone at (800) 672-8518 today. Dr. Patti Swaintek-Lamb can move your bite into its correct position and alleviate your pain.