Dr. Chris Hill has studied neuromuscular dentistry extensively at the Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies. Neuromuscular dentistry is an approach to optimal dental health by balancing the muscles of the head and neck to allow for proper function of the jaw and its joints. NM treatment focuses on placing the jaw in the correct position where the muscles are rest rather than in tension. Dr. Chris Hill uses advanced digital technology to help precisely determine the proper alignment of the upper and lower jaw.
What Is Neuromuscular Dentistry?
Neuromuscular dentistry is an approach to dental care that looks at the entire system of your bite, which includes the teeth, muscles, nerves, bones, and ligaments, along with other hard and soft tissues.
Often, the cause of TMJ is disharmony in this system. The teeth, muscles, and joints all have different “opinions” of where your jaw should be. Initially, the muscles, being soft tissue, will suffer the most, causing soreness and tension. But, if left untreated, the muscles will eventually overpower and wear down the other two, often with various types of bruxism, and then you’ll need dental restoration and/or joint surgery.
Neuromuscular dentistry treatments are designed to keep that from happening. The goal is to bring everything into harmony, hopefully before significant damage occurs.
Once we determine where the joint and the jaw needs to be, we have a better understanding of the type of treatment that we can utilize to achieve our patient’s goal. Treatment can include:
- Neuromuscular orthotic
- Neuromuscular orthodontics
- Full mouth reconstruction
- Bite adjustment, including Disclusion Time Reduction (DTR)
We prefer to use noninvasive treatments that preserve your teeth and bite, but the goal is always to find a solution that really treats the problem and provides long-term health.
A neuromuscular orthotic can be used in the initial phases of treatment for TMJ disorder. The orthotic is a fully anatomical appliance that is typically placed over the lower teeth that allows the patient’s jaw to rest in a more muscularly stable position. This new position is measured through the use of advanced technology that allows Dr. Chris Hill to have an accurate idea of how the muscles are going to respond to treatment.
Over a period of several months, as the jaw muscles begin to heal, Dr. Chris Hill will adjust the orthotic to fine-tune the bite into an optimum position where the muscles are more comfortable and relaxed. When the jaw muscles are balanced, other muscles of the head and neck begin to balance. This allows muscle tension to decrease which can cause many of the symptoms caused by TMD, to disappear.
For many people, an orthotic is all the treatment necessary to achieve permanent results. You may start out wearing the orthotic all the time, but eventually you may just have to wear it at night.
Disclusion Time Reduction (DTR) Therapy
Disclusion time reduction (DTR), also called disocclusion time reduction, is a treatment for TMJ that seeks to resolve TMj by reducing the forces in your bite. This includes the forces that occur when you close your mouth, when you chew, or when your jaws come together for swallowing.
This therapy uses detailed digital bite force measurements to identify where and why your bite forces are excessive. Once we know the cause of your disclusion, we can seek to reduce it, typically using a procedure called immediate complete anterior guidance development (ICAGD), in which the shape of your teeth is altered slightly to help them guide your jaws into the healthy position where all parts of the system are balanced. Within just one to three visits, you may be able to get complete relief from your TMJ, without having to use the bite splint. You may see relief in just a few weeks, but studies show the results can last for years.
Finding the Best TMJ Treatment for You
If you are unhappy with TMJ pain and want to find the optimal solution for you, please call (314) 375-5353 (Downtown St. Louis) or (314) 678-7876 (Clayton) today for an appointment with neuromuscular dentist Dr. Chris Hill at City Smiles, with offices in downtown St. Louis and Clayton, MO.