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 providing long-term dental solutions. A neuromuscular dentist can protect your child’s teeth from future damage by preventing a misaligned bite from developing. And if you already suffer from TMD (Temporomandibular Joint Disorder), it can be dramatically life-changing!
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.
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 T-Scan (Tek Scan) bite paper, a state-of-the-art digital technology that allows our doctors to properly track your bite and determine the issues in a quick and efficient manner. The T-Scan bite paper can track which tooth hits first and hardest when you bite down. This allows our doctors to accurately develop a treatment plan for you.
What Is TMJ (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.
After 45 to 60 minutes of TENS unit stimulation, which is part of TMD testing and can also be part of TMD treatment, you will have a relaxed jaw and no pain. Treatment is customized, and our neuromuscular dentists will explain and discuss it all with you before beginning.
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 or pencils and nail biting
- Certain health conditions including fibromyalgia, and arthritis
- Stressors that cause a clenched jaw, straining your facial muscles and temporomandibular joints.
- Poor posture
- Medical procedures, such as intubation during surgery
- Ill fitting dental restorations and bad dental work
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 a 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
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.
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. 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
TMD/TMJ MIGRAINE Symptoms
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
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.
TREATMENTS FOR TMD/TMJ
Depending on your specific symptoms, our dentists may suggest one or a combination of several non-surgical TMD treatments.
These non-surgical treatments for TMD include:
- Exercises for facial muscle relaxation
- TENS unit
- Correction of jaw alignment
- Oral therapy appliances
- 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. LVI fellow, Dr. LeSueur will explain everything in full detail before your treatment begins at your consultation.
“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.