What Are Neuromuscular Orthodontics?
Neuromuscular orthodontics is an approach to orthodontics that considers the placement of appliances and/or brackets on the teeth considering factors such as chewing, tooth alignment and how your muscles move.
Neuromuscular orthodontics also examines your mouth from many different perspectives, focusing on all the components, such as your joints and bones of your jaw, your teeth’s position and how they come together, along with your upper airway.
Teeth are just one part of the smile. Neuromuscular orthodontics also recognizes that:
- The teeth are surrounded by the muscles of the cheeks and tongue. These muscles are always at work, which, in turn, puts pressure on the teeth and negatively affects jaw position.
- These muscles can negatively impact your facial development, head posture and tooth alignment.
- Excessive mouth breathing can lead to abnormal stress from the tongue on the teeth, causing the tongue to move outward, leading to an open bite.
- When the airway is restricted, it can contribute to developing a narrow dental arch and crowding of the teeth.
- Many factors cause muscle forces that adversely affect a person’s bite.
Balancing the Bite
By establishing a balanced bite, we can put your jaw into a more stable position and ensure the temporomandibular joints’ function. Setting a relaxed posture allows your masticatory muscles to function as intended to allow you to chew and move your jaw with ease.
Neuromuscular orthodontics studies how the jaw joints’ muscles, the jaw joints and the teeth affect one another. It also considers how the teeth mesh together to ensure the harmony of all components.
To properly assess the bite, we use various instruments to examine the structural and fundamental components of your face, jaw, joints and muscles to determine optimal positioning. We can also determine where your jaw muscles are most comfortable and establish the endpoint to where we will move your teeth.
We use a low-frequency TENS (transcutaneous neural stimulator) unit to help relax facial and jaw muscles. Using TENS is the first step to restoring muscles to their regular resting length before we can determine your bite’s diagnosis. Often, muscle spasms and tension are found in individuals living with TMJD and individuals with wear and tear on teeth and bite dysfunction.
Relaxed muscles make it possible to measure how your jaw moves and find the best trajectory in which your muscles are at the optimal length and position to ensure correct function.
Low-frequency TENS can also reduce pain caused by muscle tension and spasms, helping you be more comfortable.
Measuring Jaw Movement
We also use diagnostic tools to measure your jaw movement to determine how much correction your bite needs. We do this through the use of electromyography (EMG). EMG diagnostics help us monitor the tension in the jaw muscles and see how muscles work together when opening and closing.
Recording Jaw Joint Sounds
We can also record the sounds your jaw joints make during movement (known as crepitus). If your jaw pops, snaps or cracks during movement, it can indicate a problem with the joint, especially in combination with other symptoms such as pain, stiffness and limited use.