Neuromuscular dentistry is an approach to dental treatment that focuses on the correction of jaw misalignment. Neuromuscular dentists determine the optimal position of the jaw in order to correct misalignment and adjust how the upper and lower teeth come together (occlusion). By realigning the jaw joint through the use of cosmetic dental restorations, tooth recontouring (equilibration) or orthodontics, neuromuscular dentists strive to alleviate stress from the jaw muscles and eliminate painful symptoms of temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ or TMD).
What differentiates neuromuscular dentistry from other theories of occlusion that may guide dental treatment is its emphasis on gravity as determining the bite, as well as where the jaw muscles are most relaxed.
Neuromuscular Dentistry Treatments
If the jaw is not properly aligned, neuromuscular dentistry may help to address the precise cause of the problem – whether jaw joint, muscle or tooth position. Treatment plans developed by neuromuscular dentists are designed to correct bite abnormalities by allowing the jaws to go to their optimal positions for the long term.
For example, neuromuscular dentists assert that muscle pain and spasm can be relieved using Ultra Low Frequency Transcutaneous Electrical Neural Stimulation (ULF-TENS). This treatment involves placing electrodes on your jaw, neck and shoulder areas that transmit mild electrical stimulation to repeatedly contract the jaw muscles in order to relax them.
Adjustments to a person’s bite can be accomplished using an oral appliance — such as a splint or mouth guard – until the bite has been permanently stabilized. Or, orthodontic work may be required to ensure proper alignment, in addition to dental restorations such as crowns, or tooth recontouring (equilibration).