In advanced restorative dentistry the decision as to where to build a new bite is paramount to the success of the treatment from both a functional and esthetic aspect. We base that decision upon the science, research, and technology commonly called neuromuscular dentistry. It differs from "traditional" dentistry in that the emphasis is placed upon the activity of the muscles that move the jaw. Unlike neuromuscular dentistry, traditional dentistry uses the position that the teeth come together and the position where the jaw is positioned in the joint space as a reference point to restore the teeth.
Neuromuscular dentistry recognizes that the muscles that move the jaw must be in a comfortable, relaxed position in order to not be in conflict with the teeth and joint. Many people require advanced restorative treatment because excessive muscle activity and a poor bite position have led to destruction of their teeth and resultant smile.
It is this same relaxed muscle position that helps create better posture and increased flexibility and muscle strength, enhancing athletic performance with the Pure Power Mouthguard.
Common symptoms that occur when teeth, jaws and muscles are in conflict include:
- Loose teeth
- Worn, chipped, or cracked teeth or fillings Clenching
- Worn or notched areas at the gumline
- Pain or clicking and popping of the joints Shoulder, neck, and back pain
- Numbness in arms and fingers
- Pain behind the eyes
- Facial pain
- Pain and sensitivity in teeth
- Crowded teeth
- Receding gums
- Ear symptoms
The first goal of neuromuscular dentistry is to find the position of the jaw where the muscles are relaxed and at rest. This is a three dimensional position in space and is often irrespective to the position of the teeth.
We utilize a number of sophisticated instruments and technology to find the position of the jaw where the joints, teeth, and muscles will operate in harmony. The first of these is a device called the Myo-Monitor.
The Myo-Monitor is a low frequency T.E.N.S. (Transcutaneous Electrical Neural Stimulation) unit. This device delivers a mild electrical impulse to the muscles that move the jaw. This rhythmic pulsing relaxes
the muscles and sets up ideal muscle function by increasing blood flow, flushing out toxins. We often find that after 45 minutes of stimulation, the muscles are in their ideal position.
At this point we utilize the K-7, our computerized diagnostic equipment to record this position and transfer it to models of your teeth.
This Computerized Mandibular Scanning Unit utilizes a magnet placed in front of your lower teeth and a sensor array to measure and record this position in three dimensions.
The eight channel Electromyography is used to verify that this new position results in decreased muscle activity. Muscle activity is measured by recording the amount of electrical activity in individual muscles.
Sonography is another parameter measured by the K-7. It can measure where sounds and pops occur when opening and closing the joints, helping to evaluate joint damage.
Once we have verified the comfortable position of the lower jaw, we can fabricate an orthotic (a plastic retainer type appliance) that allows the jaw to close to this ideal position. It is normally worn for three months to stabilize the bite and insure that all muscles are comfortable and symptom free.
At this point a decision is made to wear the orthotic indefinitely, have orthodontics done to move the teeth to this ideal position, have one or both arches of teeth restored, or to adjust the bite to this ideal position. For more information on neuromuscular dentistry, please contact our Neuromuscular Dentist, Dr. Wilcox at Desert Smiles.