SERVING MESA, PHOENIX, Gilbert, TEMPE AND SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA
Neuromuscular dentistry has changed the world of cosmetic dentistry. What used to be a short-term fix for dental problems has become a superior form of dental care which provides long-term dental solutions. A neuromuscular dentist can protect you and your child’s teeth from future damage by preventing a misaligned bite from developing. If you already suffer from TMD (Temporomandibular Joint Disorder), this correction can dramatically reduce your pain.
While there are many cosmetic dentists in Phoenix, Arizona, our dentists are among the few who are LVI-trained. LVI, or The Las Vegas Institute, offers advanced dental training at their facility using state-of-the-art technology. Dr. LeSueur is a fellow and Drs. Dodaro and LeSueur have both attended the prestigious institute receiving training in all areas of dentistry, including neuromuscular. Their goal is to relieve your chronic, often debilitating, pain with TMD / TMJ treatment.
What is Neuromuscular Dentistry?
Neuromuscular dentistry is an approach to correct misalignment of the jaw. By ensuring that your teeth and jaws are in proper alignment, this prevents future tooth damage such as chips and fractures. Our dentists, who are trained in both cosmetic dentistry and neuromuscular dentistry, will apply both forms to your TMJ treatment procedure. That will give you longer-lasting results and a smile that is both healthy and attractive.
At our practice, we use BioPak and T-Scan (Tek Scan) state-of-the-art digital technology that allows our doctors to properly track your bite and determine any issues in a quick and efficient manner. The Tek Scan and BioPak technologies allow our doctors to evaluate TMJ problems, bite issues, and the reasoning for your head or neck pain. From here, our doctors are able to develop a treatment plan for bite issues and pain management to complete major restorative care. The T-Scan bite paper can track which tooth hits first and hardest when you bite down, which wouldn’t be available to our doctors otherwise. These technologies are designed to create harmony between the joints, muscles and bite to eliminate pain and allow major reconstructive work to be done.
What Is TMD (temporomandibular joint dysfunction)?
Your temporomandibular joint connects your jaw to your skull. It is one of the most complex joints in your body and is responsible for a variety of important functions such as talking, chewing, or yawning. When this joint falls out of alignment, it can lead to a condition called temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ). Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, also called TMD, is a neuromuscular disorder of the jaw, which can cause chronic pain, damage to your teeth, and symptoms throughout your body that do not appear to be dental in origin.
People with TMD often suffer years of chronic pain, seeing doctors, taking a series of medications, and undergoing unsuccessful treatments, because doctors don’t connect the symptoms to the dental cause.
TMD symptoms can be elusive and include:
Headaches, often diagnosed as migraines, are one of the most common, misinterpret symptoms of TMJ/TMD. Whether you are aware of the tension in your jaw or not, it creates tension in the muscles in your face and neck which can cause tension headaches and vascular headaches.
- Neck and back pain
The muscles in your jaw work with the muscles in your neck which work with the muscles in your back. Tension radiates from one to the other. Added to this, the muscle tension eventually causes bad posture, and can cause your neck and back to be out of alignment.
- Numbness and tingling in the neck and arms
This muscle tension can put pressure on a bundle of nerves located between your neck and shoulder. This is called the brachial plexus, and results in the controlling of your arm and hand. Pressure on this nerve bundle can cause numbness and tingling in your arm, hand, and fingers.
- Ear problems
Ears are very complex with tiny delicate parts. The jaw joint and muscles are right there with the inner workings of your ears. Misalignment and tension in your jaw can affect your ears causing ringing, stuffiness, ear pain, and even infections.
- Clicking and popping jaw
When your bite is misaligned, your jaw joints can start rubbing together in ways that they shouldn’t. A disc of cartilage normally provides cushion, but when it gets pushed out of the way the joint rubs together, clicking and popping.
- Limited jaw movement and locking jaw
Your bite can be so far out of alignment that your jaw joint catches on itself and gets stuck.
- Tooth grinding
The tension in your jaw can cause you to clench and grind your teeth unconsciously. This creates more tension and exacerbates the problem, often causing headaches. It can also damage your teeth.
- Chipped or loose teeth
Grinding and clenching, even constantly chewing with the wrong angle of pressure, can damage your teeth over time, causing chips and broken or loose teeth. It can also cause restorations to fail.
TMJ Patient Testimonials
“Great experience so far with treatment of my TMJ I recently found I have. Very knowledgable, supportive and flexible with adjustments and tensing. I feel a ton less pain in jaw and Dr Lesuer is very kind to stay later to explain and provide adjustment. Noticble difference from beginning treaments. Feeling relief!” – Kara Lang 9/2017
“I’ve been struggling with migraines for years but the last year it been a lot worse. I’ve had my my mouth guard for 7 days now and I’ve been migraine free. I have TMJ and this has been such a great experience. The office is warm and inviting family oriented. The office clean and the staff is wonderful I will never go anywhere else!!!!!” – Erica Canez 9/2016
What causes TMD?
Some people develop TMD without ever knowing the cause. Common triggers include:
- Trauma, such as whiplash or sports injuries
- Bad oral habits, such as chewing ice, pencils or nail biting
- Certain health conditions including fibromyalgia, and arthritis
- Stressors that cause a clenched jaw, straining your facial muscles
- Poor posture
- Medical procedures, such as intubation during surgery
- Ill fitting dental restorations and bad dental work
TMJ and Ear Pain
Neuromuscular dentistry has the ability to prevent chronic ear infections in children due to TMD. While many cosmetic dentists refuse or prefer not to treat children, our Mesa neuromuscular dentists recommend that you bring your children in to see them when they are 12-18 months old, so they can ensure that they get the best dental care right from the start. Feel comfortable and confident having your loved ones treated with the best in the field.
What causes Chronic Migraines?
Migraines are believed to be the result of blood-vessel contractions and/or brain abnormalities, although their exact cause remains unknown. A TMD/TMJ testing session can help pinpoint the source of your discomfort and serve as the basis for a custom treatment plan to ease your pain. While the root source of migraines is not known, these sometimes-debilitating headaches can be triggered by a number of factors including:
- Emotional stress
- Physical fatigue
- Light sensitivity
- Reactions to taste or smell
- Weather changes
- Changes in sleeping habits
One of the most common symptoms of TMJ is chronic headaches. Original tension on muscles and misaligned joints have a direct impact on trigeminal nerve resulting in the chronic headaches. This same pressure can cause generalized facial pain in addition to:
- Ocular (eye) pressure
- Ear ringing and pain
- Nasal pressure and pain
- Neck pain
- Severe backache
The wonderful thing about TMJ / TMD (temporomandibular joint disorder) testing is that not only can it lead to proper diagnoses and treatment of the debilitating condition, the testing process itself can provide immediate relief from pain. Only a neuromuscular dentist, such as Dr. LeSueur, has the knowledge and the equipment to perform accurate testing. TMJ treatment involves two phases. The first phase of treatment seeks to alleviate the painful symptoms associated with your condition and stabilize your jaw position temporarily. This can be accomplished in several ways:
- We start out with the TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Neural Stimulation) machine. This acts like an electrical massage, relaxing your jaw muscles and relieving the pain. The treatment lasts about 45 to 60 minutes. TENS also increases blood flow, flushes out toxins, and stimulates the production of endorphins – your body’s natural pain killers.
- Electromyography measures the electrical activity in your jaw muscles when moving and at rest. This tells us how tense those muscles really are and helps us know when we’ve found the correct position for your jaw. We also evaluate your jaw-to-skull relationship. Next we use the K-7 unit to track and record the position and movement of your jaw when:
- At rest
- Muscle function and jaw-to-skull relationship
- The second phase of your TMJ treatment will seek to permanently return your jaw to its ideal resting position and restore proper alignment to your bite. Depending on the nature of your problem. Dr. LeSueur and Dr. Dodaro may be able to instruct you on exercises and lifestyle changes that will relieve TMD. If the problem is a more substantial misalignment, you may need to wear a temporary appliance to gradually change the position of your jaw and correct your bite. Various types of occlusal splint therapy (orthotics) can be used.
TMJ Pain Relief
- Orthotic mouth guard
- Dental restorations
- Occlusal adjustments called equilibration
- Exercises for facial muscle relaxation
- TENS unit
- Correction of jaw alignment
- Hot and cold compresses
How long will TMD treatment take?
You will experience relief from symptoms as early as the testing phase. The length of time necessary to achieve full correction will depend on the nature and severity of the problem. Our neuromuscular dentists will conduct testing to make sure that your jaw is in optimal alignment. They may reshape your teeth or use crowns to keep your teeth meeting up perfectly and make the results permanent.
“I had orthodontic treatment to correct my bite when I was a teenager, how can I have TMD now?”
An orthodontist or dentist lacking training in neuromuscular dentistry, and performing TMD treatments may actually create the reoccurring problem. Even if the treatment brought your jaw into proper alignment at the time, other events, later in life may have triggered TMD. Many people do not experience TMD symptoms until after an event, such as a car accident, which does not involve direct dental trauma.
Schedule a consultation
During your TMJ consultation, we will listen carefully to your symptoms, fully assess your jaw and facial muscles, and help you determine the most effective way to restore comfort and health to your body. Fortunately, there are a number of TMD/TMJ treatment options available. For more information on TMD/TMJ contact Drs of Smiles today at 480.834.6991!