You might think that your dentist treats your teeth. After all, that’s what “dentist” means: one who works on teeth. But neuromuscular dentistry changes the focus of dentistry from just working on the teeth, to treating the teeth as part of a large, complex system of bones, muscles, joints, and nerves. A neuromuscular dentist is going to identify problems in the way your jaw functions that can contribute not only to tooth damage, but also to a wide range of symptoms that you might not think have their origins in your mouth. Neuromuscular dentistry is commonly used to treat TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorders), which can be linked to many different symptoms and is hard for doctors to diagnose and treat.
If you have headaches, jaw pain, or other symptoms of TMJ, and you’re looking for a neuromuscular dentist in Valdosta, GA, please call (229) 242-5511 or email for an appointment with Dr. Nelson Clements.
Benefits of Neuromuscular Dentistry
Neuromuscular dentistry is a relatively new development in the history of dentistry. It was developed to address many shortcomings that people perceived in dental treatment, and it offers many benefits over traditional dental approaches, including:
For these reasons, many people have started seeking out neuromuscular dentists either for treatment of TMJ or for better results from restorative and cosmetic dentistry.
What Is TMJ?
Neuromuscular dentistry looks at TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder) as an imbalance among the different elements in your bite system. In order to function properly, your jaw joints, muscles, teeth, nerves, and bones all have to work effectively together. When they don’t work together, this dysfunction can result in serious symptoms that may start in the jaw, but can have a dramatic impact on your entire body.
Symptoms of TMJ
One of the things that can make TMJ both hard to diagnose and hard to live with is that it can cause a wide variety of symptoms. Some of the more common symptoms of TMJ include:
- Jaw pain
- Jaw muscle spasms
- Jaw popping and clicking
- Locked jaw
- Headaches, including migraines
- Damaged or worn teeth
- Face pain
- Tinnitus and earaches
- Vertigo and dizziness
- Neck pain
- Upper back pain
- Numbness or tingling in the hands and fingers
In addition, there is evidence linking TMJ to other chronic pain disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and fibromyalgia. There is some suggestion that treating TMJ can help reduce or prevent these conditions, but that is controversial.
Neuromuscular Dentistry Treatment of TMJ
There are many approaches to treating TMJ. Neuromuscular dentistry typically begins by identifying the state of your bite. We will first talk to you about your symptoms and take a complete medical history. We will then measure the tension in your jaw muscles, listen to the sound of your jaw joint to identify any potentially damaging contacts, and track the movement of the jaw to make sure it is smooth and regular. We will then relax your muscles using transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), a kind of electric massage, and perform all these measurements again.
Once we’ve identified the extent of your TMJ and the likely cause, we will recommend treatment. For some people, the only treatment necessary is periodic use of the TENS to relax your jaw muscles. Other people benefit from an oral splint that helps hold your jaw in a healthier position.
After we’ve confirmed that the oral splint will hold your jaw in place and alleviates your symptoms, you might want to consider altering your teeth so that they can hold your jaw in place without the need for the oral splint. This is only recommended after we’ve established a good treatment record with the oral splint.
Dr. Clements’ Remarkable Neuromuscular Dentistry Treatment
Dr. Clements didn’t used to believe in neuromuscular dentistry he believed what he had been told that it was “quackery.” Then at the age of 47 he experienced a serious nerve condition that caused his left arm and hand to go completely numb. He was being prepared for surgery to fuse his cervical vertebrae, but was also being told that this would likely not restore the sensation in his hand, and that he’d have to consider an alternative career since he could no longer practice dentistry.
Then he received neuromuscular dentistry treatment for his bad bite. Feeling in his hands returned, and he didn’t have pain, either. Although his cervical discs are still herniated, he has full function in his hand and arm again.
After this transformative experience, Dr. Clements has treated hundreds of patients with neuromuscular dentistry, and almost all of them have seen complete or near complete relief from symptoms.
If you would like to learn more about how neuromuscular dentistry can help you, please call (229) 242-5511 or email for an appointment with Dr. Clements in Valdosta, GA.