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TMJ Therapy – Mt. Pleasant, SC

Using Neuromuscular Dentistry to Relieve Chronic Pain

Woman in pain with ice bag on faceIt’s easy to forget about the muscles in your jaw when everything is working as it should. But, as soon as something goes wrong with the alignment of your temporomandibular joint, chronic, severe pain is likely to occur. The result is temporomandibular dysfunction, TMD, or what many people refer to as simply “TMJ.”

Where do you turn for treatment for jaw pain? It may surprise you, but your dentist is actually the professional best equipped to treat your TMJ/TMD. Dr. Virginia Gregory uses neuromuscular dentistry to address the underlying problems associated with jaw misalignment. This discipline takes a whole-body approach to the treatment of jaw pain and considers the muscles and tissues connected to and within the TMJ. Neuromuscular dentistry is used to both diagnose and treat TMJ/TMD.

Man in dental chair holding his cheek

Neuromuscular Dentistry

How does your dentist diagnose the problem? First, we begin with a full assessment of your symptoms. Dr. Gregory will ask you a number of questions regarding your jaw pain, like when does it occur most often, whether or not you’ve had past jaw injuries and more.

Next, Dr. Gregory will assess the alignment and motion of your jaw. A neuromuscular dentist uses the following procedures to examine the jaw’s movements during opening, closing, and at rest.

  • Use of computerized technology to provide detailed information about the status of your muscles and joints
  • Relaxation of the muscles around the jaw with the use of a TENS device
  • Computerized Mandibular Jaw Tracking to measure and study the pattern of the jaw opening and closing through it’s full range of motion
  • Electromyography tests provide information on activity of key muscles that control the jaw during various functions as well as at rest

This information is then used in Dr. Gregory's diagnosis to assist in determining the precise point at which your jaw should be in relation to your upper teeth. Rather than relying on your present jaw position as being best for you, Dr. Gregory uses this additional objective information to determine if your bite should be left as is or be adjusted to a more optimal occlusion.

Dental team examining x-rays and patient chart

Neuromuscular Treatment Options

Once the underlying cause of your symptoms has been identified, Dr. Gregory can decide which treatment method is best for you. Custom-fit orthotics, orthodontics, and full mouth reconstruction are all methods for relieving the discomfort related to TMJ/TMD. Sometimes, one solution is all that’s needed to reduce symptoms. Other patients find relief with a combination of treatments.

Model of skull and jawbone

Find Successful Treatment for Jaw Pain Today

Treatment for your jaw pain doesn’t have to involve surgery or a lifetime dependence on painkillers. It’s the goal of neuromuscular dentistry to solve the underlying cause of TMJ/TMD -- and not to just mask the pain.

Some treatments include:

  • Orthotics: When the alignment of the TMJ has been affected by injury or another factor, it can be corrected using a custom orthotic. Unlike a nightguard used for teeth grinding, the orthotic is used to heal, stabilize, or make permanent changes to the alignment of the TMJ.
  • Orthodontics: Patients dealing with bad bites, or malocclusion, may experience TMJ pain as a result. Overbite, underbite, and crossbite can place undue pressure on the jaw joints. Traditional or clear braces often reduce symptoms by improving the bite and removing stress from the TMJ.
  • Full mouth reconstruction: When restorative care is needed alongside orthodontics or a custom-fit orthotic, Dr. Gregory may recommend a full mouth reconstruction. This treatment method pulls from different areas of dentistry to provide a comprehensive solution to TMJ/TMD pain.

Schedule your appointment to find much-needed relief from your jaw discomfort today!

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