As an airway focused dental practice, one of the things we take very seriously is the interaction between the various muscles, bones, and joints to create ideal function. Neuromuscular dentistry is a treatment philosophy that closely aligns with airway focused dentistry in the goal to achieve optimal comfort and function of the orofacial systems. Neuromuscular dentistry is used in treating a number of common oral and overall health concerns including TMJ dysfunction and chronic headaches. Contact our team to find out more or schedule an appointment today.
What is Neuromuscular Dentistry?
To put it simply, neuromuscular dentistry places the bite and jaw into a position that allows muscles and joints to relax, relieving the symptoms associated with TMJ dysfunction. While traditional dentistry evaluates primarily the teeth, jawbones, and gums, neuromuscular dentistry works with the entire orofacial structure, including hard tissues, soft tissues, muscles, joints, and nerves. Neuromuscular dentists understand that hard and soft tissues have a complex relationship, and they work to make that relationship a harmonious one. Neuromuscular dentists understand the necessity for including the power source (muscles) and the nerves that create the movement, pressures, and function of the mouth.
Causes of TMJ & TMD
When the jaw is not aligned properly, both the hard and soft tissues are affected and many physiological problems result such as headaches, jaw pain, neck and shoulder pain, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and clicking or popping sounds in the jaw joint. In a number of cases, these symptoms are the result of TMJ (temporomandibular joint syndrome), also referred to as TMD (temporomandibular joint disorder) or MPD (myofascial pain dysfunction).
How to Relieve TMJ Headaches
Headaches are one of the most common symptoms of a TMJ problem. Tension headaches are the most common type of headache, and the TMJ headache is a tension type of headache. It is often described as a feeling of wearing a hat two sizes too small, with pain in a ring around the head, or as a migraine headache.
There are a few TMJ-related causes for tension headaches. Constant contraction of muscle fibers within a muscle creates tension, pressure, or a tight feeling in the face and head, but constant tight muscle fibers prevent or reduce blood flow to that area. The body sends more blood to these areas, and this results in an increase in general blood pressure to the muscles and head, sometimes referred to as vascular headaches. Clenching and grinding the teeth, which are often TMJ symptoms, produce pain from the muscles in the head.
Unfortunately, these headaches can be so frequent or severe that they are frequently misdiagnosed and treated as migraine headaches.
The pain from muscle headaches can be blocked with medications, nerve connections can be cut with brain surgery, and muscles somewhat relaxed with psychological therapy, but the cause of the disease and damage from the bad bite, malocclusion, will persist. Side effects with medications, complications from surgery, and limited results with muscle or psychological therapy do not correct the source of the problem. Neuromuscular dentistry ensures the muscles are healthy because they do not have to work hard to position the teeth in a strained bite.
By putting the temporomandibular joint back into alignment and placing the jaw into its optimal position, neuromuscular dentistry alleviates most headache problems related to TMJ, muscle, nerve, and joint disorders. Contact Drs. Campbell and Schmidt today.