Can a neuromuscular dentist help you? It’s quite possible that a neuromuscular dentist can treat symptoms that your doctor has not been able to diagnose. And a neuromuscular dentist has insight that can improve many dental treatments. Neuromuscular dentistry isn’t a household word—it sounds strange and unfamiliar—but it’s a basic concept, really. A neuromuscular dentist doesn’t treat just your teeth, she treats your entire mouth system, including the muscles, nerves, and joints.
What Is Neuromuscular Dentistry?
The word “dentist” comes from the French for teeth, and many general dentists take this as the definition of their practice. They focus on the teeth as the center and move outward into the periodontal area as it relates to teeth. (Incidentally, before the importation of the word in the late eighteenth century, dentists were known as “operators” in English, which is why the room where dentists perform procedures is known as an “operatory,” even though most dentists don’t perform operations there.)
Neuromuscular dentists, on the other hand, look at your mouth as an entire system, composed not just of teeth and gums, but also of nerves, muscles, tendons, and more. They note that disorder in one part of the system can lead to disorders in other parts, and potentially even a cascade of dysfunction.
This different perspective helps neuromuscular dentists perform many treatments that traditional dentists see as outside their specialty.
Scientific Diagnosis of TMJTMJ diagnosis and treatment is one of the central concerns of neuromuscular dentistry. If the jaw joint is out of alignment, the effects can be seen not just in your mouth, but in symptoms that may arise such as headaches, neck pain, and more.
A neuromuscular dentist knows how to diagnose your TMJ scientifically. Using a technology known as the K-7 device we can monitor the sound of your jaw joint, track the precise movement of your jaw, and even identify the activity level of your muscles. This tells us about the tension of your jaw system and how it might need to be adjusted.
Neuromuscular Dentistry Improves Other Dental Procedures
Neuromuscular dentistry can help you get better results from cosmetic dentistry and general dentistry procedures.
Many people want porcelain veneers to correct chipped, cracked, or worn front teeth. A neuromuscular dentist will assess your bite before placing your porcelain veneers to ensure that bite forces responsible for the chips, cracks, and wear do not lead to early failure of your veneers.
Neuromuscular dentists will also be aware of the effects a new dental crown may have on your bite and ensure that your new crown will not only fit on your tooth—it will fit in your bite. A poorly fitting crown can lead to sore jaw muscles, difficulty chewing, and damage, either to the crown or the opposing tooth.