Neuromuscular Dentistry

Your teeth and gums are critical players in creating good oral health, though they’re not the whole team. Your teeth and gums contribute to the structure of your oral cavity, which also consists of facial bones, muscles, nerves, and joints. The structures of your oral cavity work together to provide you with the vital functions of chewing, speaking, and swallowing. When these structures are misaligned or imbalanced, a host of physical symptoms can develop, disrupting your comfort, oral function, and daily life.

Symptoms of Neuromuscular Imbalance: Malocclusion or TMD

Physiologic dentistry comprehensively evaluates the health of your bite and function of your jaws. Malocclusion refers to a misaligned bite, and temporomandibular disorder (TMD) refers to problems with your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and the muscles that control it. While some with malocclusion or TMD may exhibit little-to-no symptoms, others may experience severe discomfort or pain. Signs and symptoms of malocclusion or a TMD may include:

  • Headaches
  • Ear congestion
  • Pain behind one or both eyes
  • Dizziness (vertigo)
  • Limited ability to open the mouth
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • TMJ clicking or popping
  • TMJ soreness or pain
  • Unexplained dental issues, such as cracked or chipped teeth or restorations
  • Unexplained oral, facial, or nonspecific pain
  • Unexplained numbness in fingers or arms
  • Unexplained neck, shoulder, or back stiffness and pain
  • Ringing of the ears (tinnitus)
  • Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
  • Cervical pain
  • Postural problems
  • Tingling (parasthesia) of fingertips
  • Trigeminal neuralgia
  • Hot and cold sensitivity

The Process of Restoring Balance and Function with Physiologic Dentistry

Comprehensive oral health and overall body health require optimal alignment of your bite and jaws. By utilizing advanced technological instruments, we uncover and diagnose neuromuscular (nerve and muscle) imbalances in your jaw and design a customized plan to help you reclaim health, function, and balance.

  • Sonography. Often referred to as ultrasound or sonogram, sonography is a diagnostic medical instrument that uses high-frequency sound waves (also known as ultrasound waves). A device called a transducer sends out ultrasound waves that bounce off structures in the body; a computer translates these waves into digital images for diagnosis. In physiologic dentistry, your dentists will use sonography to measure the movements and vibrations in the temporomandibular (jaw) joint and identify joint misalignments.
  • Electromyography (EMG). Using an instrument called an electromyograph, EMG is an electrodiagnostic procedure used for assessing and recording the electrical activity produced by skeletal muscles and the nerves that control them (motor neurons). EMG is used to diagnose muscle dysfunction, nerve dysfunction, or issues with the electrical signals between muscles and nerves. To evaluate and diagnose neuromuscular activity, we will place electrodes over the jaw muscles, which will sense electrical impulses and transmit information to a specialized recording instrument. The recording instrument produces a diagnostic record known as an electromyogram, which we will use to measure neuromuscular activity during various movements.
  • Mandibular Electrognathograph and Kinesiograph (Jaw Tracking). Jaw health is primarily determined by healthy movement patterns, which are best suited to withstand the force of chewing. To analyze mandibular (jaw) movements three-dimensionally, we will place a magnet on the lower front teeth and a specialized headset on your head, which will record the dynamic relationship between the lower jawbone and the skull. The data produced by jaw tracking allows us to identify trajectory and mobility issues in your temporomandibular (jaw) joints.
  • Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS). In physiologic dentistry, we use ultra-low frequency TENS to relax the muscles of the head and neck, allowing them to reach a point of true physiologic rest. This helps us to establish a physiologically correct bite position.

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