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Modern Dentistry Associates in St. Joseph, MI

Neuromuscular Dentistry

Neuromuscular dentistry addresses more than just your teeth and gums. It is an approach to dentistry that focuses on the jaw in relation to its surrounding muscles, joints, and ligaments. Neuromuscular dentistry treatment works to place your jaw into its ideal resting position in order to relieve symptoms of painful conditions such as temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ).

Signs of Neuromuscular Imbalance

There are many warning signs indicating that you may have a misaligned jaw. Symptoms of potential neuromuscular imbalance include:

  • Headaches
  • TMJ pain
  • TMJ noise
  • Ear congestion
  • Vertigo
  • Tinnitus
  • Dysphagia
  • Loose teeth
  • Clenching/grinding of teeth
  • Facial pain
  • Tender, sensitive teeth
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Cervical pain
  • Postural problems
  • Numbness of the fingertips
  • Thermal sensitivity
  • Trigeminal neuralgia
  • Bell’s palsy
  • Nervousness/insomnia

Neuromuscular Diagnosis

Diagnosis begins by taking a comprehensive patient history and performing a thorough examination. During this examination, St. Joseph neuromuscular dentist Dr. Sven Erickson will check for 42 signs of neuromuscular imbalance.

Dr. Erickson will also:

  • Take photographs of your teeth and posture
  • Study models of your teeth
  • Take x-rays of your teeth, jaw joints, and head
  • Perform a series of computerized diagnostic tests, including sonography of the joints and electromyography of the facial muscles
  • Track the movement of your jaw

All of this information will be used to diagnose your condition and determine whether a bad bite is contributing to your problem.

Neuromuscular Treatment

If Dr. Erickson determines that neuromuscular treatment would be beneficial, he will recommend a series of procedures which will work to relieve your symptoms and correct the alignment of your bite. First, your head and neck muscles will be relaxed for 45 minutes using a TENS unit to electronically stimulate your nerves. This painless procedure deprograms the muscles, and Dr. Erickson can then more easily determine the ideal resting position for your bite.

Study models of the upper and lower teeth are then mounted using this bite, and an orthotic is fabricated to maintain this physiologically-comfortable relationship for a few months. Minor modifications to this orthotic may be made until your bite is in its optimal position. Once this is achieved, you will notice a considerable reduction of your TMJ symptoms.

Finally, Dr. Erickson will transition you from the orthotic to a permanent phase II solution. Options for maintaining this comfortable and stable jaw position include:

  • Fabrication of a long-term orthotic
  • Orthodontics
  • Replacement of missing teeth
  • Dental crowns on some or all of the teeth

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