Neuromuscular Dentistry

TMJ Therapy for Pain Relief

Neuromuscular dentistry sounds complicated. To be honest, it is quite involved. However, our training and tools enable us to provide neuromuscular therapies that can alleviate a long list of nagging, chronic symptoms, including:

  • Migraines or headaches
  • Crowded or loose teeth
  • Clenching and grinding
  • Wear or notches at the gum line
  • Pain in shoulders, neck, back, behind the eyes, and in teeth
  • Numbness or tingling in extremities
  • Receding gums
  • Earaches

How We Assess Neuromuscular Dysfunction

Traditional dentistry addresses concerns with teeth, not muscles. However, scientific developments have revealed that some problems and pain associated with the teeth, face, and surrounding structures may be caused by improper function of muscles and nerves. The jaw position may not be affected by the teeth’s position, but the reverse is not true. Teeth can be affected by improper jaw position.

One initial step in assessing a patient for neuromuscular problems involves taking a JVA (Joint Vibration Analysis), which measures sounds in the jaw joint. This information tells us if the patient’s jaw joint is damaged and to what extent.

In some cases, a low-frequency Transcutaneous Electrical Neural Stimulation, or TENS, unit is used. By delivering small electrical impulses to the muscles responsible for jaw movement, the TENS unit relaxes those muscles. This results in increased blood flow to flush toxins from the area. After less than an hour, the relaxed jaw muscles can find ideal positioning.

Water Tower Dental Care now has the ability to perform Cone Beam CT scans to help visualize your mouth better and to help determine the best course of action for TMJ. Click here to learn more about Cone Beam CT scans.

TMJ-Caused Conditions

If your temporomandibular joint is not aligned properly, it can lead to several other debilitating conditions that can negatively affect both your sleep and awake hours. Here are a few conditions that TMJ can cause:

TMJ and Sleep Apnea — The TMJ disorder can cause sleep apnea if the bite relationship of your teeth positions the lower jaw too far backwards. It leads to a chain of events that negatively affects the degree of opening in the airway. A partially obstructed airway can lead to sleep-disordered breathing, including sleep apnea.

There are several therapies available for TMJ specialists to treat sleep apnea. One of the more effective ways is to use a mandibular advancement device (MAD) or other oral appliance. These are meant to be worn during sleep and will help prevent the mandible from moving backward and closing the airway. If the patient uses a CPAP device, in some cases the dentist can lower the pressure.

TMJ Teeth Grinding — TMJ can cause involuntary teeth grinding and vice-versa. If your jaw movement is out of alignment, it can cause premature wear and tear on your teeth.Teeth grinding by itself can also cause TMJ problems to arise. When most people grind their teeth, they do so involuntarily in their sleep. Repetitive clenching and grinding of teeth can cause damage to the jaw joints over time or strain the muscles in that area. Stress has been listed as the #1 cause of teeth grinding.

One of the more effective ways of treating TMJ teeth grinding is to have the patient wear a TMJ mouthguard, which helps keep everything in alignment and alleviates symptoms. If the TMJ was caused by involuntary teeth grinding, then restorative dental work can help build the teeth back up to their original size and shape.

Therapy Options

If the information we gather shows that a patient has improper jaw alignment, we will begin conservative therapy by creating a custom orthotic appliance to hold the patient’s jaw in proper alignment. The patient will wear the orthotic for three months to stabilize the bite.

We can then determine whether the orthotic alleviated symptoms and if further therapy is necessary. A patient may need no more therapy, or he or she may wear the orthotic as maintenance for the rest of life. Orthodontics, restoration of tooth arches, or bite adjustment may also be advised.

Botox for TMJ Treatment

Botox has been traditionally used to treat fine lines and wrinkles on the face. Over the past few years, it’s been showing great promise in treatment of TMJ. Several scientific studies are confirming what dentists have already known: Botox works extremely well in treating TMJ issues.

Botox is injected into the facial muscles that are afflicted with discomfort and soreness. This will affect only the immediate areas of your face that were injected. It relieves jaw tension and TMJ issues for many people. Headaches, teeth grinding, and even lockjaw can be minimized. Ask our office for more information to see if Botox is right for you.

TMJ Specialist in Chicago

If you’re suffering from sleep apnea, teeth grinding, or headaches that refuse to go away, you might be suffering from TMJ and one of the many issues that it can cause. The only way to know if you have TMJ is to schedule an appointment with a qualified TMJ specialist, such as Dr. Aneszko or Dr. Stino at Water Tower Dental Care. They have helped countless people find relief from the pain and debilitating conditions associated with TMJ.

Treat your smile to a little bit of luxury in the heart of Chicago! Call Water Tower Dental Care today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Aneszko or Dr. Stino. From our offices in Water Tower Place building on The Magnificent Mile, we offer a level of service that’s anything but ordinary!