TMJ treatment focuses on getting the patient’s bite into a good neuromuscular position. Neuromuscular position is about getting the TMJ, the entire spinal column, and every system connected to the jaw in a balanced position so that there is no unnecessary tension on any one part of the system. Accommodating for an imbalance in any part of the system will adversely affect the rest of the system, so TMJ relief means finding the imbalance and corrects it.
Setting TMJ Treatment Goals
Dr. Lowrance will evaluate your bite using a computer called a K7 to conduct jaw tracking and electromyography studies of your TMJ. It works like a GPS system, tracking where your jaw moves when it opens and closes. The electromyography output shows how hard your TMJ muscles are working at rest and while opening and closing. This information helps Dr. Lowrance to determine where your ideal bite is, thereby determining the best course of TMJ treatment.
TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Neural Stimulation)
As a first step in the actual treatment of your TMJ, Dr. Lowrance will gently relax the muscles in your jaw using a TENS system. The TENS system delivers ultra-low electrical pulses to the overly tense muscles in your TMJ. Most patients report instant relief of much of their pain with the TENS treatment. The TENS system works by increasing the blood flow in the jaw muscles and stimulating endorphins that work as a natural pain reliever.
Phase I of TMJ Treatment: Fixing The Bite
After “resetting” your bite with the TENS, Dr. Lowrance will again use the K7 to identify your TMJ’s optimal resting position. He uses this data to build an oral appliance called an orthotic (also known as a TMJ “Splint”) that is worn over the teeth. You’ll wear this orthotic for a few weeks up to several months and will periodically come in for follow-up appointments to see how things are going.
Phase II of TMJ Treatment
Once your bite is stabilized and your TMJ symptoms have been reduced or resolved, you and Dr. Lowrance can discuss what you want to do next.
- Are you happy using the orthotic? If so, you can continue using it, sometimes on a part-time basis.
- Do you want to do something more permanent?
Permanent TMJ Treatment Solutions
One permanent solution that may be available to you is Coronoplasty. Coronoplasty is a simple procedure where Dr. Lowrance will reshape the enamel of the tops of your teeth to realign your bite to the position that worked for you with the orthotic. This is only an option for patients who need just a slight alignment.
Permanent / Fixed Orthotics
These work like the temporary orthotic that you were given, but are fixed to your teeth.
Full Mouth Reconstruction
Using crowns and porcelain veneers, Dr. Lowrance can give you a beautiful new smile that also permanently brings your jaw into alignment.
If appropriate, Dr. Lowrance will work with an orthodontist to move your teeth into a neuromuscularly balanced position that will match the position achieved with your oral appliance.
Fixing The Whole Patient
There may be more going on with your TMJ than just a bite imbalance. You cannot create a neuromuscularly balanced bite and expect it to stay in position if other parts of the system are out of whack. Dr. Lowrance may refer you to other specialists to resolve other non-TMJ-related issues that are contributing to the problem.
If you live in Corpus Christi and are interested in your TMJ treatment options, contact TMJ dentist, Dr. Don Lowrance for your initial consultation. Call (361) 851-8274 now.