How Does Neuromuscular Dentistry Help With TMJ? Your Complete Guide

Aug 9, 2021

Has jaw pain got you down? Is TMJ pain making your life miserable, and you don’t know where to turn? You’re not alone in your pain, as over 35 million people in America are feeling TMJ pain too. But relief is in your future with neuromuscular dentistry for TMJ.

Neuromuscular dentistry not only considers your teeth but all the muscles of your jaw too. And the right professionals can change your jaw and your life.

So if you’re wondering how neuromuscular dentistry can help with your TMJ, then keep reading. You’ll learn everything you need to know about TMJ and neuromuscular dentistry.

What Is TMJ?

Let’s start with the basics and talk about the details of TMJ. TMJ is short for the word temporomandibular joint. This joint is the joint that connects your jawbone to your skull on both sides. Sometimes this joint becomes inflamed and angry, and then you’re left with a TMJ disorder.

What Are the Symptoms of TMJ?

TMJ can cause a lot of pain and tenderness. When you have TMJ, you’re likely to experience:

  • Pain and tenderness around your jaw area
  • Pain in your temporomandibular joints
  • Pain in your ears
  • Trouble chewing your food
  • Locking of your joints to where you can’t close your mouth
  • Dizziness and migraines
  • Ringing in your ears
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Facial pain

Often, you might only experience a clicking sound when you’re eating but without any pain. See your doctor if you have constant jaw pain and tenderness and can’t open your mouth normally.

What Are the Causes of TMJ?

Often the causes of TMJ aren’t clear. A blow to the jaw or other types of traumatic injuries can cause TMJ. 

Other causes can include:

  • Arthritis
  • Grinding and clenching your teeth
  • Connective tissue disorders
  • A bite that’s not aligned correctly

Stress is often a factor in the development of TMJ. Stressful physical tasks like living heavy objects can cause you to clench your jaw muscles and grind your teeth.

A dentist can examine your jaw while you open and close your mouth and check for the areas of pain and tenderness. 

How to Treat TMJ

TMJ pain relief is the primary goal when it comes to treating TMJ. Your doctor might recommend you see a dentist.

You can take Tylenol or Advil to relieve your pain and inflammation. Still, your doctor or dentist can prescribe you a more potent anti-inflammatory if over-the-counter medications aren’t getting the job done.

Sometimes your doctor will prescribe muscle relaxants to help relieve muscle cramps and spasms. You can also try mouth guards to prevent you from grinding your teeth at night, physical therapy, and counseling.

A procedure using a needle can draw fluid out from the joint spaces, which remove dead cells and inflammation.

Some people get steroid injections or Botox to relax the muscles and relieve the inflammation. Injections are good relief if you experience pain with eating.

Neuromuscular dentistry for TMJ is a great non-invasive and holistic approach that addresses the relationship between your teeth, joints, and muscles.

Neuromuscular Dentistry for TMJ

Dr. Bernard Jankeson first came up with the term neuromuscular dentistry in 1967. Dr. Jankeson was involved in neuromuscular medical research at the University of Washington and the University of Oregon.

Neuromuscular dentistry is a science dedicated to studying the muscles and nerves in your head and how they work to keep your jaw functioning as it should.

Muscles of your face, neck, and jaw are designed to control your head and jaw position and how your teeth come together. Once this jaw position falls out of alignment, then your troubles start to begin.

Neuromuscular dentistry deals with how your teeth, joints, muscles, and nerves all work together to allow your jaw to work as it does.

One of the great things about neuromuscular dentistry is it’s not invasive like surgery or injections, yet it can correct your TMJ enough to where you forget you ever had it!

What to Expect At Your Appointment

Your neuromuscular dentist will evaluate the way your muscles, jaw, and teeth are functioning. They’ll examine your bite for worn-out teeth, jaw tenderness, and areas of inflammation.

The next step is to reprogram your jaw muscles so that they can start to function normally. It’s almost like retraining your muscles to remember the correct position, just like you would when you learn to type or ride a bike. 

A Transcutaneous Electrical Neural Stimulation Unit, or TENS unit, is typically used for this. The TENS unit sends signals to your jaw muscles, causing them to contract. The idea is to eliminate any destructive patterns of chewing or muscle movements.

It also helps get rid of toxins and build up from overusing your muscles. Usually, after about 45 minutes, your neuromuscular dentist can determine the best and most restful position for your jaw.

Your new bite position is sometimes called a neuromuscular bite. Your dentist works to finalize it by developing a plan to restore your teeth, whether that’s a crown or tooth extraction.


Check with your neuromuscular dentist about the costs involved. Insurance companies have different policies when it comes to what medical treatments they will cover for TMJ.

Neuromuscular Dentistry

So now you know all about TMJ and neuromuscular dentistry, it’s time to get in touch with the professionals at Brentwood Dental Spa.

Can dentists treat jaw pain? Yes, the dentists at Brentwood Dental Spa can develop a custom neuromuscular dentistry treatment plan just for you.

So make sure you contact us today for a pain-free tomorrow.

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