Neuromuscular dentistry is partly its own discipline, but it’s also partly a way of looking at dentistry that helps us make every dental procedure we do just a little better. As a separate discipline, neuromuscular dentistry treats jaw and bite function disorders that may have negative implications for your overall health. As a dental perspective, neuromuscular dentistry helps us achieve improved function, durability, and aesthetics.
At Firouzian Dentistry in Columbus, OH, we believe that neuromuscular dentistry helps us provide all our patients with better results and a better experience both in our office and out. It helps us make our patients healthier. If you would like to learn more about how neuromuscular dentistry can help you, please call
What Is Neuromuscular Dentistry, Anyway?
Dentistry takes its name from the Latin for “tooth,” and teeth remain the focus for many dentists, but in its name neuromuscular dentistry, we have an expanded focus that includes the nerves, muscles, bones, and joints that support the teeth and perform the essential jaw functions of biting and chewing. Part of the rationale for this is that these other structures not only impact the healthy function of your teeth, but they are also intimately involved with the healthy function of the rest of the body.
Some of the essential principles of neuromuscular dentistry include:
- The body exists as a biologic whole, not as a mechanism that can be disassembled to analyze the function of elements separately.
- Therefore, the jaw system and the body have to be considered as part of a single whole, and we have to understand how each impacts the other.
- When dysfunction exists, the body will adapt. This may minimize symptoms in the short term, but may ultimately create more damage and dysfunction in the long run.
- A relaxed, decompressed state allows for optimal health and function. Muscle tension and pressure can lead to nerve pressure, restricted blood and lymphatic flow, as well as pain and soreness. Rested muscles and loose joints have an inherently better capacity for function.
- All treatment should proceed from a comprehensive, scientific diagnosis that can guide treatment for maximum effectiveness.
When you put these principles together, you can see how neuromuscular dentists approach the problem of your bite and teeth: we will use scientific diagnosis to determine the current state of the system and guide us toward a treatment that improves the function of your jaw and body.
Neuromuscular Dentistry and TMJ
One of the most common applications of neuromuscular dentistry is in treating temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ, but also called TMD or TMJD–the name is complicated). In TMJ, dysfunction in the jaw joint causes a wide range of symptoms, some of which are seen in the mouth, such as worn or broken teeth, jaw pain, jaw sounds, and even a locked jaw. Other symptoms are seen elsewhere, including headaches, neck pain, back and shoulder pain, and, sometimes, even tingling and numbness in the fingers. Sometimes TMJ is caused by jaw trauma, but other times it is related to a bite that doesn’t fit together properly, what we describe as malocclusion.
In cases of TMJ caused by malocclusion, TMJ treatment with neuromuscular dentistry can provide essentially complete relief that can be long-lasting, even permanent.
Neuromuscular Dentistry and Cosmetic or Restorative Dentistry
Neuromuscular dentistry is also sometimes called on in service of other dental approaches, such as cosmetic or restorative dentistry. In this case, neuromuscular dentistry helps by ensuring that restorations promote and are protected by healthy jaw function. Malocclusion can be caused by dental restorations that aren’t designed using neuromuscular principles and therefore disrupt the harmony of the jaw system. These restorations can lead to TMJ symptoms and/or the premature failure of the restorations themselves.
Often, people want cosmetic or restorative dentistry in response to tooth damage like chipped, cracked, or worn teeth. When this damage is caused by jaw dysfunction, any restorations that are placed will also become cracked and worn. Using neuromuscular dentistry, we can plan restorations that will be long-lasting, healthy, and more attractive because they are based on the proper rest position of your jaw.