Today’s neuromuscular dentists use state-of-the-art technology to determine if a patient’s symptoms are caused by malocclusion and if so, what a patient’s optimal jaw position is. Neuromuscular dentists use computerized jaw tracking instruments to record jaw movement, resting position, and path of closure. Electromyography is used to measure a patient’s jaw’s muscle function in both its stressed and relaxed positions, and will also measure the jaw-to-skull relationship to see if there is a structural imbalance. Sonography is used to record jaw joint sounds to detect any abnormalities. Additionally, x-rays of the jaw may be taken to help evaluate the condition and positioning of the joint.
Once a patient’s dentist has diagnosed him or her with Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome or TMJ/TMD, he or she can determine the best course of treatment for a patient’s specific needs. Typically treatment will follow three steps:
- Relieve muscle spasm and pain.
The immediate concern for neuromuscular dentists is to provide relief of a patient’s symptoms. The best way to do this is by using a technology called ULF-TENS. ULF-TENS stands for Ultra Low Frequency Transcutaneous Electrical Neural Stimulation. Basically, ULF-TENS is a way to relax muscles with a gentle massage of the muscles. The rhythmic pulsing relaxes the muscles by increasing blood flow and pumping out waste products. ULF-TENS also helps with pain relief by stimulating the body’s production of endorphins, the body’s natural anesthetic.
- Stabilize the bite.
Often for this step a temporary device, known as an orthotic is worn over the teeth. The orthotic allows a patient’s neuromuscular dentist to make easy adjustments to the device without adjusting the teeth until the bite is stabilized. Once symptoms have been relieved and the bite is stable, a patient’s dentist will move on to the next step to permanently adjust a patient bite to the correct position.
- Long-term management.
There are a variety of ways to correct a patient’s bite in a permanent way. Four of the most common of these approaches are outlined below:
Coronoplasty is reshaping the enamel of the teeth to correct a patient’s bite. This is a simple procedure that does not require anesthesia and is used when the bite is only slightly misaligned.
- Removable Overlay Partials
These are permanent orthotics that fit on the back teeth or molars and are designed to maintain an aligned bite.
This approach involves making the teeth higher or giving them more vertical space by using crowns. This realigns the bite and provides structural support for the jaw.
- Orthodontics (Braces)
When the teeth are healthy again, they may be moved into the most optimal position using braces.
If you or a loved one maybe suffering from TMD, call the Headache & TMJ Center of New Jersey today for a free consultation at 855.TMJ.DOCS or 855.865.3627.