Neuromuscular Treatment for TMJ Disorder
Using a neuromuscular dentistry (NMD) approach to managing pain and disorders of the TMJ (temporomandibular joint) is Dr. Spoor’s preferred method of care in most cases. NMD can produce a positive, long-term outcome for our TMJD patients, without the need for invasive procedures or surgery.
NMD considers numerous factors that impact the function of the jaw, not just the anatomy of the joint itself. From the occlusion of the teeth to the natural muscle movement, NMD offers pain relief by correcting the physiologic bite and associated functions.
Do I Have TMJ Disorder?
Not everyone experiences classic symptoms of TMJ disorder, such as headaches or muscle pain. Sometimes it manifests itself into results caused by a poor biting relationship, such as worn or chipped teeth. Signs such as these indicate that something is out of harmony; so addressing the bite is usually the best way to naturally treat the problem.
TENS units send mild electric stimuli into the muscles to aid in relaxation. Some of our patients are familiar with the theory, as they have received similar treatments from a chiropractor or physical therapist. However, NMD therapy at our office uses a lower pulse that releases endorphins into the oral structures at the site of treatment.
Using a TENS unit can relax the muscles into physiological rest, which can potentially erase the factors causing TMJ problems. First, Dr. Spoor will digitally capture a replica of your natural bite. Then the TENS unit is used for approximately 45 minutes to relax the muscular structures around the jaw, so that they align into a harmonious relationship.
Finally, a digital image is captured again and compared to the first image. If necessary, Dr. Spoor will create a custom orthotic appliance that will help patients to maintain the corrected jaw position. Otherwise, the muscle memory will simply pull the jaws tightly back into the previous position.
Between TENS appointments, Dr. Spoor can make adjustments to the orthotic as needed. Usually high pain levels can be managed within a 3-month period, with visits every 2 to 3 weeks until physiologic rest is achieved.
Alternative TMJ Pain Management
From time to time, Dr. Spoor may also recommend adjunctive procedures like orthodontic therapy or Botox to manage TMJD discomfort. Orthodontics can reposition misaligned teeth and jaws that may predispose patients to TMJ disorder. Botox on the other hand, provides muscle relaxation in tense areas, making it effective in managing pain. Muscle relaxers may be recommended on a temporary basis.
If you are managing TMJ disorder with warm compresses or over the counter medication such as Advil or ibuprofen without relief, then it’s time to call Dr. Spoor for a TMJ evaluation. We also perform preventative dental care.