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What is Neuromuscular Dentistry ?

The Field of Neuromuscular dentistry goes beyond using your habitual bite as the basis for planning treatment. Neuromuscular dentistry considers the entire system that controls the positioning and function of your jaw-the teeth, muscles and joints. The Neuromuscular dentist seeks to establish a harmonious relationship among these three main factors, resulting in a jaw position called "neuromuscular occlusion"

 

 

The Muscles

Different muscles come into play for positioning the jaw, opening and closing the jaw (biting and chewing), and swallowing.  the muscles that open the jaw are in the neck area and the muscles that posture your jaw are the ones that extend upward through the cheeks and into the forehead area. The power muscle for chewing are in the cheek area. Swallowing muscles must have something to brace against to function. The Posturing muscles generally hold the jaw at a position where the teeth are close to occlusion. 1-2 mm apart.

Control of all of this is done subconsciously without having to think about it-your brain is programmed to do this through a process that is called proprioception. If everything is just right and the jaw is not moving, most of these muscles are said to be at rest, or barely working to maintain posturing. If your natural teeth do not fit together properly, your muscles may accommodate, forcing the jaw to close on a path that stresses and fatigues the muscles over time.

The joints

The jaw is able to move since it operates on a joint called temporomandibular joint (tmj), there is also a soft pad called a disc that lies between these two structures. The head of the mandible in the joint is called condyle, the position of the condyle in the fossa is largely determined by where the muscles are holding the jaw- a position in turn affected by the bite (occlusion). If the system is in balance, the condyles will essentially be centered in the fossa and the disc moves freely with the joint. If the muscles of mastication are accommodating as described above, they may be holding the jaw joinyt in an abnormal position, negatively affecting its function. this may result in limited jaw opening and/or deviation of the jaw during opening.

The Posture    

Posture can also play a significant role in your occlusion. The jaw could be considered one end of your interrelated skeleton, just bring your teeth gently together till you get the very first contact then tilt your head back and fort and you  will see the position of teeth contact will change. With head posture affecting occlusion, and due to interrelationship of the entire musculoskeletal system, the neuromuscular dentist will want to know if there is tension in the muscles of the neck and upper back area. if there is this will affect the occlusion and the treatment. a lot of people have forward positioning of the neck and head this will most often cause shoulder muscles to ache. This condition can be as a result of bad bite  (malocclusion).  

 

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Dr. Farid Shodjaee
Ottawa, ON
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farid@drfarid.com

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