TMJ/TMD Therapy: Neuromuscular Dentistry for Whole-Mouth Health
Chewing works in tandem with your jaw joints, which are also known as temporomandibular joints. These small, triangular joints control the motion of your jaw. If the TMJs are misaligned, the associated nerves and muscles endure added stress, which causes pain.
Trained in neuromuscular dentistry, Dr. Valentine does more than just clean teeth and fill cavities. Neuromuscular dentistry focuses on the relationship between your teeth, gums, muscles, nerves, and bite. If your bite becomes misaligned, you can damage teeth and develop symptoms like neck pain, headaches, a pressure in the ears, and tingling in the extremities. TMJ dysfunction can also cause bruxism (teeth grinding), which results in premature tooth wear and fractures.
Diagnosis & Treatment
With neuromuscular TMJ treatment, Dr. Valentine can correct jaw position and alleviate discomfort. She will analyze your bite and identify the optimal position for your jaw joints. Then, she will design a course of action to restore the joints to their proper position. Non-surgical TMJ treatment may involve rebuilding your back teeth to restore occlusion or wearing a custom-made oral appliance to hold your bite in the correct position. Sometimes, changes in habits (not chewing gum, for instance) and stress-reducing exercises can help as well.
Some common symptoms of TMJ disorder include:
- Popping Jaw Joints
- Limited Jaw Motion
- Pain in the Jaw or Face
- Neck, Back, and Shoulder Pain
If a patient’s TMJ disorder is being caused by a noticeably misaligned bite, an occlusal adjustment may be recommended to correct it. During this procedure, Dr. Valentine will carefully alter or restore certain teeth so that they’re able to meet properly. She will also pinpoint any areas of your bite that are undergoing excessive strain and correct the problem. As a result, you’ll be able to enjoy a harmonious set of teeth that fit together as they should at last – no pain required.
A custom-made occlusal splint is the most popular method for treating TMJ disorder, and for good reason. These quality appliances can prevent teeth grinding (a common source of TMJ disorder), create a proper resting position for the patient’s jaw when worn that reduces strain, and do a great job of relieving chronic facial pain. In fact, the consistent use of an occlusal splint can often create impressive, lasting improvements in a patient’s jaw health and overall quality of life.