Are you tired of living with pain every day? Do you feel like you’ve been getting the runaround, but never an answer?
I’d like to get serious here for a minute. Chronic headaches, migraines, soreness in your jaw, neck pain — well, the list is really long — are not things anyone should have to live with. I have seen way too many patients who have been dealing with pain for years and it has made me passionate about one particular approach to TMJ disorder. It’s called neuromuscular dentistry, and it has changed the lives of so many of my patients. Really.
Neuromuscular Dentistry: A Complicated Name for Simple Relief
Let me try to explain this simply: Neuromuscular dentistry ends pain and corrects all kinds of problems by creating a balanced relationship between your jaw position, bite, and teeth.
Still too complicated? OK. Let me try that again: When your top jaw is aligned with your bottom jaw, your bite is in its optimal position and your face and jaw muscles will be calm and relaxed. When the alignment is off, it can get pretty painful, and what is often referred to as TMJ can develop.
Symptoms of TMJ
There so are many symptoms related to a misaligned bite. In fact, some of them could make you think you need anything from a chiropractor to a neurologist. Do any of these symptoms sound familiar? If you answer yes to more than one — Congratulations! You may have just won a brand-new level of misery called TMJ disorder.
(I’m actually NOT kidding with the “Congratulations.” It actually means there is treatment available.)
- Loose, worn-down, chipped, or even cracked teeth without even getting a face ball.
- Dental restoration wreckage.
- Pain or soreness around your jaw joints.
- Neck, shoulder or back pain that makes you ask strangers for a back rub.
- Face pain (that’s all I’m saying about that).
- Mysterious, clicking, grating, ticking, purring sounds in your jaw joint. No wait; just clicking and grating.
- That fatal moment when your jaw locks open… or closed.
- Numbness in your fingers and arms.
These symptoms, especially if they are chronic, won’t get better without treatment. In fact, they will probably just get worse and worse.
How I Diagnose and Treat TMJ
I have already told you how much I love my dental toys. They are all my favorites, but the ones I use to treat TMJ disorder are special. When my patients are in pain, I need tools that are going to help me really get down to business and accurately diagnose and treat this painful problem. I have also spent a lot of time on research and training because my tech toys aren’t really worth much without a mastermind to use them.
The first order of business is to get you and your jaw to relax. That’s why I start with a TENS treatment. This gentle, electronic massage, gently stimulates the muscles of your head, neck, and jaw with low frequency pulses. This helps your muscles completely relax and find their most comfortable position. It does feel weird, but you’ll like the results.
This is just what is sounds like. Sort of. Sonography is a non-invasive technique that uses sound waves to measure noise in your jaw joint. If you have severe TMJ disorder, you have probably already heard them yourself, but since I can’t crawl into your skull, this is a really useful tool and it let’s me measure just how bad your particular noises are. I have been thinking of recording an album, but only other dentists would listen to it.
Myotronics K7 Evaluation System
Yeah. Look at that name. The Myotronics K7 Evaluation System. Say THAT three times super fast. Seriously, though, this baby has more than a space-fantasy name. I use it to track the position of your jaw at rest and in motion, and believe me when I say it is sophisticated. It includes a computer program to record and interpret TMJ sounds, masticatory (chewing) muscle activity (EMGS), and the path of movement the jaw follows in function. You may not remember the name, but you will remember the relief it can lead to.
Joint Vibration Analysis
Now this one really does what it’s name says – it analyzes the vibration of your jaw joints. Jaw joints are supposed to operate like a well-oiled machine — quietly, smoothly and with minimal friction. When something is wrong, such as degeneration, cartilage tears, perforations, or mechanical displacements (Oh, just call me. I couldn’t begin to explain that term here.), the surfaces get rough. That means friction will increase, and we all know that friction can lead to vibration. I’ll record and analyze how often, how long, and how loud that vibration is.
As you can see, these toys do much more than go “vroom.” They let me understand your unique case, and decide on the most comfortable and functional position for your bite.
Living Pain Free
After we do all the evaluation and measuring stuff, we have to decide on the best way to give you relief.
Notice that I am saying WE. That’s because I always want you to have just as much of a say in choosing your course of treatment as I do. I’ll go over your options, which could be something as simple as a night guard or as complex as a full-mouth restoration and bite rebuild.
Whatever we choose, you and I will work together to make it possible for you to greet everyday with a smile instead of pain.