Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder can cause debilitating headaches and other symptoms, but Friddle Dentistry can help you achieve lasting relief. We practice neuromuscular dentistry at our practice serving the greater Fort Smith, AR area. For patients suffering from TMJ disorder, we can examine the force of your bite, check jaw alignment using the K7 evaluation system to identify the cause of your symptoms and provide effective treatment. If you suffer from jaw pain, headaches, or neck tension, TMJ disorder may be to blame. Contact us today to schedule an evaluation.
What Is Neuromuscular Dentistry?
Neuromuscular dentistry is focused on evaluating and treating the entire craniofacial structure. The jaw, neck muscles and surrounding tissues function together in a delicate balance. Since these muscles are responsible for eating and speaking, they come under intense daily strain. If one of these components falls out of balance because of tension or inflammation, it can result in chronic pain and severe discomfort. When a patient has jaw misalignment, it can result in tremendous pressure on the temporomandibular joints (TMJs), which connect the jaw to the skull. We can often use a custom orthotic or nerve stimulation therapy to help alleviate chronic jaw pain and other symptoms of TMJ disorder.
Why do we need Neuromuscular Dentistry?
Eighty percent of the population has some form of malocclusion. Because of the pollutants in the air, a greater number of children have enlarged tonsils and adenoids, and therefore a large percentage of children are forced to open their mouths at night in order to get enough oxygen to their lungs. This re-distribution of the musculature of the head and neck introduces and imbalance in people’s “bite”. Because of this, people tend to grind and clench their teeth in an attempt to find a comfortable place for their jaws. Besides breaking down the teeth, this places a great deal of stress on the musculature. People are what we call over-closed, and their muscles are constantly in some degree of activity in order to get their teeth to come together. This leads to a buildup of lactic acid in the muscles and puts stress on the TMJ (the joint where the mandible attaches to the head). This stress leads to headaches, muscle pain, poor posture, ringing of the ears, tingling in the fingers, neck pain and an abundance of other symptoms. Placing people in their correct neuromuscular bite relieves many of these problems for patients and improves their quality of life.
Is Neuromuscular Dentistry important for esthetic results?
NMD is important for restoring people to their most esthetic position. Since people are over-closed as was mentioned above, it is often impossible to restore proper esthetics without opening this bite to their correct neuromuscular position. This opening allows the dentist to correct missing and crowded teeth, shifts midline discrepancies and other problems patients present with esthetically. Also, the correct NM bite leads to muscles being comfortable, and can relieve most clenching and grinding that patients experience. This allows the dentist to use all porcelain restorations and not worry about people breaking off crowns and veneers.
Diagnosis with the K7 Evaluation System
In order to provide effective treatment, your dentist will first need to perform an accurate diagnosis. Using the advanced K7 evaluation system, the doctor can gain a detailed understanding of your jaw function. The K7 system uses several electrodes placed around your head and neck to track the movement and force of your jaw. The system also helps the doctor identify areas with greatest muscle activity and the places where your bite has the most force. Based on this information, we can create a special orthotic to gently realign the jaw and reduce tension.
Treatment with TENS Therapy
After diagnosing the cause of your symptoms with the K7 system, we will often use transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) therapy as a safe and gentle treatment option. A TENS unit administers mild electrical impulses to help stimulate blood flow in your overworked jaw muscles, reducing tension and inflammation. This device also helps to override short-term muscle memory, allowing these muscles to fully relax. Once the jaw muscles have relaxed, the doctor can analyze the natural relationship between the upper and lower jaws to determine your ideal alignment. Treatment with a TENS unit typically lasts about 45 minutes, and you may require several treatment sessions to achieve more lasting results.
Find Relief from Headaches and Other Painful Symptoms
Using our advanced technology and knowledge of neuromuscular dentistry, we work with patients to help them find relief from chronic headaches and other symptoms of TMJ disorder. To learn more about how you can benefit from our approach to neuromuscular dentistry, contact Friddle Dentistry today.
TMJ Therapy Can Provide Relief from Painful Symptoms
Many patients have problems with headaches, migraines, muscle pain, or neck pain. Some are even having trouble sleeping for long periods of time or have been diagnosed with sleep apnea. Another problem we are seeing are patients that have ringing in their ears, tingling in their fingertips, or even experiencing vertigo. All of these can be caused by teeth not being in the proper position. We are having great success using neuromuscular orthotics to establish occlusal harmony and eliminate many of these symptoms that patients are struggling with on a daily basis. Neuromuscular orthotics use methods to place muscles and jaw joints in their natural relaxed position. For more information on this, refer to our section on NMD Neuromuscular Dentistry.
For many patients, fixing the bite is not a cure all and doesn’t eliminate all of their symptoms. People have often been dealing with pain in areas for years due to a number of reasons. Sometimes a neuromuscular orthotic would work best alongside chiropractic or physical therapy. Other people have already been using a chiropractor or physical therapist for years, but have never known that their headaches and/or neck pain would have anything to do with the mouth. Sometimes dealing with people’s bites provides the relief that the patient has been searching for. We have seen patients that have been suffering with symptoms for what seems like their whole lives, walk out of our office without having any more symptoms. These are some of the most rewarding experiences for us as dentists, when people are able to get their lives back after years of suffering. If you have any of the above mentioned symptoms, you should come into our office for a free TMJ consultation to see if a neuromuscular orthotic is right for you.