WHAT IS NEUROMUSCULAR DENTISTRY?
Neuromuscular dentistry is an area in which we focus on the entire system that enables patients to speak, chew, swallow, and perform all oral activities that we typically take for granted. Anything that we do with our mouth requires the use of teeth, joints, facial muscles, tendons, and nerves. Neuromuscular dentistry uses specific diagnostics and modalities to address this complex system and restore balance to the oral structure as a whole, not just amongst the teeth.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF NEUROMUSCULAR DENTISTRY?
From the perspective that there are several structures involved in the functional movements of the mouth, we can identify a number of benefits of neuromuscular dentistry. The accuracy of diagnosis and treatment leads to optimal patient outcomes, especially for patients who have struggled with the misdiagnosis of unexplained migraine headaches or other symptoms. In addition to alleviating uncomfortable symptoms, a neuromuscular dentist applies specific principles that ensure patients’ restorative and cosmetic dental work lasts as long as possible.
WHAT PROBLEMS CAN NEUROMUSCULAR DENTISTRY FIX?
The muscles and joints of the jaw are some of the most frequently used structures in the body. We move our jaw thousands of times a day, whenever we speak or eat, brush our teeth, sing, yawn, smile. Even at rest, the parts of the jaw are performing some form of supportive work. The consistent strain on the jaw can have a detrimental effect on overall health. Neuromuscular dentistry evaluates the jaw as an important aspect of the mouth, addressing imbalances and misalignment that cause problems such as:
- Grinding or clenching the teeth
- Jaw, tooth, or facial pain
- Chronic headaches or migraines
- Sinus pressure
- Clogged ears, tinnitus, or hearing difficulty
HOW CAN A NEUROMUSCULAR DENTIST HELP ME?
Neuromuscular dentists often help patients who have struggled for months or years with chronic pain. This could be jaw pain or headaches of some sort. For example, when medical treatment for migraines or headaches fails, neuromuscular dentists often find that the pain stems from temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). Patients receive benefits from their neuromuscular dentist through the use of state-of-the-art technologies that pinpoint the source of painful symptoms.
When an accurate diagnosis can be made, a suitable treatment plan can follow. Neuromuscular dentistry treatments do not aim to alleviate symptoms, they are conducted to address the root cause of those symptoms. Diagnosis is reached via a series of exams of the teeth, bite, jaw, neck, and head. Evaluation of the jaw position is conducted to determine if treatment is needed to align oral structures.
Every situation is unique. The neuromuscular dentists realize that each patient needs treatment options that address the varying factors involved in their particular condition. In most cases, the objective is to restore bite alignment. However, the way in which this is achieved can vary. Some patients may find balance through specific stretches and rest. Some may require custom orthotics.
Patients who fit with an orthotic are often able to stop clenching and grinding their teeth. The dentist may also recommend fillings, crowns, or other fixtures, medications, exercises, or other modalities to alleviate inflammation and malocclusion. In all cases, care is based on a foundation of conservativeness. Surgery is only discussed in severe cases or when noninvasive therapies fail to achieve the desired outcome.
WHY IS NEUROMUSCULAR DENTISTRY IMPORTANT?
Neuromuscular dentists provide a comprehensive menu of services. Whether examining the overall health of teeth or preparing for restorative or cosmetic dental work, the neuromuscular dentist uses a wide perspective. This area of dentistry can help patients with TMD, facial pain, and bite misalignment. However, it is not limited to those situations. Every person needs a well-balanced bite to speak, eat, and look the way they want. Any changes to the teeth, no matter how small, affect the overall function of the mouth. Neuromuscular dentistry principles are implemented in our practice to preserve the harmony of the bigger oral system that includes the joints and muscles of the jaw.
SCHEDULE A CONSULTATION
If you are experiencing symptoms of TMJ disorder or chronic face or head pain, contact Galleria Dental Aesthetics. Dr. Lee and Dr. Oh are prominent neuromuscular dentists who have extensive training in the diagnosis and treatment of this condition. Call (703) 448-1020 to schedule your consultation at our office in McLean or Arlington, VA.