If you experience pain when speaking, chewing or making facial expressions, you may be suffering from temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD). Neuromuscular dentistry is the branch of dentistry that focuses on the alignment of your temporomandibular (jaw) joint and its surrounding muscles to alleviate pain.
TMD is characterized by pain when your jawbone and skull are out of alignment, called malocclusion. When your bite is not in balance and your muscles are strained in their normal resting or biting positions, this can lead to a series of problems. TMD can make it difficult to:
- Make facial expressions
- Enjoy your normal daily activities
TMD is a chronic, degenerative disease that can be caused by multiple factors and usually takes years to develop. But a skilled neuromuscular dentist like Dr. Patti Swaintek-Lamb can help by moving your jawbone in a comfortable, relaxed position to avoid conflicting with your teeth and jaw joint. Then ultimately, your pain can be alleviated. Many of our patients have sought treatment from medical doctors who have prescribed pain medications and anti-inflammatories. However, these are only temporary “fixes” that treat only the symptoms, not the actual cause of pain.
Many TMD sufferers have trouble identifying the cause of their condition, because they have either gotten used to the symptoms or believe another source is to blame. For example, TMD sufferers often experience headaches and neck pain but many believe they are caused by another source, such as work or stress.
Other symptoms include:
- Teeth grinding: You might grind your jaw while you are sleeping without even knowing it. The pressure of constant jaw grinding can damage your tooth roots and cause muscle spasms that may hinder your jaw from opening comfortably.
- Speech irregularities: Sometimes a chewing imbalance can lead to speech irregularities, an abnormal lip posture, painful and swollen corners of your mouth, and puffiness in your lower jaw.
- Bad posture: TMD suffers can develop a forward head posture because of poor jaw alignment. This can stretch your neck muscles and make it difficult or painful to swallow.
- Lockjaw: This symptom is common among TMD sufferers and is characterized by a clicking or popping sound in your jaw which can actually cause it to lock up.
What Can Be Done?
A neuromuscular dentist will focus on the tissues, nerves and muscles in your teeth and gums when trying to realign your jaw. Using advanced technology, we can determine if your symptoms are caused by malocclusion and what your optimal jaw position is. Our neuromuscular dentistry team can accomplish this with:
- Sonography: By recording your jaw sounds, we can determine any irregular jaw movement like clicking and pinpoint where the sound is coming from.
- Electromyography: By monitoring the tension in your muscle, we can record your chewing muscles and identify the location of your bite imbalance.
- Transcutaneous Electrical Neuromuscular Stimulation (TENS): This technology works by flushing out lactic acid and infusing your muscles with fresh blood and oxygen, allowing your muscles to relax.
Treatment options for TMD include:
- Orthodontics: Repositioning your jaw and teeth into its optimal position.
- Coronoplasty: Reshaping your teeth enamel to correct your bite.
- Restructuring: Realigning your bite by using crowns to raise your teeth.
If you are experiencing facial and neck pain or other symptoms of temporomandibular joint disorder, please contact Aesthetic Dentistry of Bernardsville today by completing the form on this page or calling (800) 672-8518 today. Our experienced neuromuscular dentist can help determine the cause of your pain and misalignment and can move your bite into its correct position. You do not have to live with pain any longer. Aesthetic Dentistry of Bernardsville serves patients from Bernardsville, Morristown, Basking Ridge, Mendham, Chester, Far Hills and nearby areas in New Jersey.