To put it simply, the belief of neuromuscular dentistry places the jaw into a relaxed position, relieving the symptoms associated with TMJ. While traditional dentistry evaluates primarily the teeth, bones, and gums, neuromuscular dentistry works with the hard tissues and the soft tissues, muscles and nerves.
People who suffer from these problems are thought to have an imbalance in the jaw-to-skull and spinal relationship, which is caused by a bad bite (malocclusion). Most neuromuscular dentists believe the bad bite can be the cause of many body pains and illnesses.
Your muscles and jaw will be tested with high tech equipment and you will be able to see your current jaw and muscle problems. Some dentists will also do a full spinal and cranial exam.
Neuromuscular Dentistry serves to change the bite and realign the jaw.
First the dentist determines the optimal position of the jaw by measuring the relaxed position of the head and neck muscles, and then repositions the jaw to achieve those exact measurements.
The Treatment usually involves adjusting the bite using orthotics (splints) to the optimal position, and ultimately restoring the teeth to their correct positions by in most cases placing crowns on every tooth. This allows the dentist to control jaw position.
The Belief is that your pain will go away after all this work is completed.
The analysis is $1,500 to $5,000, to determine your problem and usually not covered by insurance. The cost in many cases ranges from $20,000 to $50,000, dental insurance may cover some of this, however most dental insurance only covers up to $1,500-$2,500. Thus is a substantial investment.
Results and Research
The research is mixed, and there is actually a fair amount of research showing the majority of the population has a bad bite and only approximately 10% develop TMJ, TMD problems independent of their bite. Thus there is no correlation between a bad bite and the development of these problems.
Even though there is little to no double blinded, university based research that backs the neuromuscular approach, some people do experience relief.
“I would argue that an occlusion cannot be considered to be intrinsically bad or wrong. Rather it is the case that there may be an intolerable number of times for a patient to function or parafunction on an occlusion at that particular stage in their life.”
“This philosophy does not sit easily with those dentists who would like to blame occlusion for a whole host of effects and pathologies.” — Malocclusion: a term in need of dropping or redefinition?
The term ‘phantom bite’ is used to describe an uncommon condition in which patients are preoccupied with their dental occlusion, believing that it is abnormal. Phantom bite can be a disabling disorder which is difficult to treat. Available evidence suggests that the symptoms cannot be improved by occlusal treatments. It is therefore essential to avoid extensive irreversible restorative treatment. General dental practitioners should refer patients for specialist opinion and management. — Phantom bite revisited