Doctor for Neuromuscular Disorders (TMJ) Loris, SC
Many people may think that visiting the dentist is only for cleaning, root canals, and improving the overall health of your teeth. However, dentistry can also apply to the health of your joints, muscles, and nerves that involve the function and movement of the mouth.
Thanks to neuromuscular dentistry, patients who suffer from bite abnormalities, joint dysfunction, jaw pain, and other oral issues can now seek treatment to help resolve these issues. At Carolina Dental Care, Dr. Spiguzza, Dr. Holly, and Dr. Champion are dedicated to improving oral function for patients who are having difficulty or pain talking, eating, chewing, and swallowing.
Wondering if you might benefit from neuromuscular dentistry? Read our FAQ below:
What Is Neuromuscular Dentistry?
Neuromuscular dentistry is an area of dentistry that focuses not only on the teeth as they relate to the jaw, but on the nerves, muscles and joints as they relate to the jaw. By combining the principles of anatomy and physiology, neuromuscular dentistry works to achieve an optimal bite (occlusion) and jaw alignment. Neuromuscular dentists examine how all parts of the mouth and jaw work together. The objective of a neuromuscular dentist is to relax the jaw muscles in order to identify the true resting position of the jaw. They focus on determining the optimal position of the jaw in order to correct misalignment and jaw disorders.
Evaluating the status of muscles and joints provides neuromuscular dentists with additional factors to consider before determining treatment. The goal of neuromuscular dentistry is to look at the whole picture by assessing the teeth, muscles and temporomandibular joints, and how they function together.
Neuromuscular Dentistry Treatments
To correct bite abnormalities, neuromuscular dentists design long-term treatment plans that are focused on allowing the jaws to be optimally positioned. Some methods of treatment include custom dental splints, orthodontic devices or dental restorations.
Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction
Neuromuscular dentistry is particularly effective in treating temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD), which can cause symptoms such as facial or jaw pain, headaches, earaches, clicking sounds in the jaw joint, and dizziness. Some neuromuscular dentists use ultralow-frequency transcutaneous electrical neural stimulation (ULF-TENS) to treat muscle pain and spasms associated with TMD. This treatment involves the use of mild electrical stimulation to contract and relax jaw muscles.
A neuromuscular dentist will devise a customized treatment plan for the patient after a full examination of the teeth, bite and jaw.
How Do I Know If I Need To See A Neuromuscular Dentist?
Some symptoms of oral muscle pain and TMD (Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction) can seem like everyday, regular pains. However, if you notice your pain increasing as you eat, drink, talk, smile, or laugh, these may be linked to muscle issues in your mouth aware. You should schedule a visit with a neuromuscular dentist if you experience any of the following:
- Jaw pain
- Shoulder pain
- Neck pain
- Migraines or headaches
- Ringing in the ears
- Jaw clicking or jaw movement in other directions
- Difficulty chewing
- Pain when smiling or laughing
What Can Cause TMD (Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction)?
While TMD may develop through the natural process of getting older and the simple wear and tear of using our teeth to eat and chew, other factors can contribute to the development of TMD. They are:
- Trauma to the jaw, head, or neck
- Jaw misalignments
- Clenching of the teeth
- Grinding of the teeth
- Poor posture involving the neck or head
- Cracking, popping, locking of the jaw
What Happens If I Leave My Oral Muscle Pain Untreated?
TMD and other oral muscle issues can often start as a slight pain that most patients can ignore at first. However, if left untreated, this pain can worsen and become chronic. In addition to feeling discomfort around your mouth, this pain may spread throughout your face, neck, or back. If you are experiencing any oral pain, we recommend scheduling an appointment with us by clicking here.