TMJ Treatment and Neuromuscular Dentistry by Ikuta Dental Health Center - Family and Cosmetic Dentistry in Reedley, California.
You may not realize it, but your overall health is largely tied to having a proper bite (occlusion). When your bite is not aligned properly, it can cause neuromuscular diseases like Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ/TMD), a condition that causes chronic headaches, back, neck and shoulder pain and several other painful symptoms.
Oftentimes these symptoms are not immediately associated with a misaligned bite, and you can endure years of suffering before being properly diagnosed. In fact, Dr. Dennis Ikuta suffered from several of these symptoms for over 20 years until he learned more about neuromuscular dentistry at the Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies (LVI), the premier post-graduate dental training center where he is now an instructor.
What Is Neuromuscular Dentistry?
Neuromuscular dentistry is wholly focused on improving the health and longevity of your bite. It can include diagnosing and treating symptoms related to your:
- Jaw Joints
Using special diagnostic equipment and many years of extensive training, we can effectively diagnose the symptoms you are having, properly align your bite and help you find your beautiful smile again.
We are proud to provide neuromuscular dentistry to the residents of Fresno, Visalia and Reedley, CA. If you are suffering from symptoms associated with TMJ/TMD, you don't need to live with the pain any longer. Contact us today to schedule your consultation and start on the path to wellness.
When your bite is not aligned properly (called malocclusion) and the muscles of your jaw cannot relax as they should, it can cause many painful symptoms that are not often associated with your dental health. Some of the most common TMD / TMJ symptoms include:
- Headaches and severe migraines
- Neck, shoulder, face and back pain
- Tight or stiff jaw muscles
- Ear problems like pressure/congestion and ringing
- Clenching or grinding
- Loose teeth
- Pain or sensitivity of the teeth
- Worn, chipped or cracked teeth
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing
- Limited movement of the jaw
- Locking, clicking or popping of the jaw
- Numbness in the extremities
If you are located in the Fresno, Visalia or Reedley, California area and have experienced these TMD / TMJ symptoms, we can help. Using many years of neuromuscular dentistry experience and state-of-the-art equipment, we can effectively diagnose your condition and begin treatment.
Joint Pain Caused by TMJ/TMD:
Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) is a condition in which your bite becomes misaligned, causing many serious painful health problems. Sometimes the acronym TMJ will be used interchangeably with TMD, but TMJ actually stands for temporomandibular joint. Neuromuscular dentistry differs from traditional dentistry in that neuromuscular dentists are trained in proper alignment of the jaw in relation to the muscles that control its function. Over 15% of American adults suffer from chronic facial pain related to the temporomandibular joint.
Two of the most painful and debilitating symptoms of TMD are joint pain and severe headache, often described as a "migraine" headache. TMD has a profound effect on our overall well-being because the trigeminal nerve is one of the most complex and powerful nerves in the entire human body. This nerve is responsible for the temporomandibular joint and tooth functions and accounts for more than 40% of the brain's processing. The trigeminal nerve has three branches, all affecting various parts of the face, head, shoulders and arms. Because of the trigeminal nerve's far-reaching power, the pain and muscle tightness associated with TMD can even affect your hands and fingers.
Pain related to TMD may be sharp and searing or dull and constant. Pain is typically right over the joint immediately in front of the ear but can radiate elsewhere and cause spasms in the muscles attached to the bones of the skull, face and jaw. Some of the most notable symptoms of TMD besides joint pain and headache are:
- Tooth grinding (bruxism)
- Facial pain and soreness
- Neck soreness and pain
- Clicking and popping noises of the jaw
- Locking of the jaw
- Uneven and excessive tooth wear
- Ear pain
- Stiff, tight or painful jaw muscles
Diagnosis and Treatment:
A highly trained neuromuscular dentist such as Dr. Ikuta can identify the source of your joint pain with a thorough exam and appropriate x-rays. He will check your joints for clicking and popping noises or difficulty in moving those joints. To diagnose your TMD, Dr. Ikuta may need to make a "cast" of your teeth to see how your bite fits together.
The pain you are experiencing in your TMJ can be treated in a variety of ways including stress-reducing exercises, muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatory medication, and wearing mouth guards to prevent teeth clenching and grinding. Dr. Ikuta will recommend what treatment is best for your particular set of symptoms and diagnosis.
Neuromuscular Functional Orthodontics:
Neuromuscular functional orthodontics (NFO) is a highly specialized area of dentistry that combines traditional orthodontics with the principles of neuromuscular dentistry to effectively treat TMD issues. It results in a more desirable orthodontic outcome, functionally and cosmetically.
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD):
TMD is a disorder occurring when your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is out of alignment. Your TMJ connects your jaw to your skull. When it is not lined up properly, it can cause a great deal of pain and lead to other serious dental problems. It is generally related to an improper bite and abnormal closing pattern.
The symptoms of TMD include:
- Jaw pain
- Ear pain
- Chewing problems
- Facial pain
- Locking jaw
- Headaches and migraines
- Clicking or popping of the jaw
- Uneven bite
- Clenching or grinding of the teeth
- Limited movement of the jaw
TMD is generally treated using the principles of neuromuscular dentistry, which focus on realigning your jaw to the position where your muscles are the most relaxed.
The Benefits of Neuromuscular Functional Orthodontics:
Neuromuscular functional orthodontics is a very effective way to help you achieve a healthy bite and an attractive smile. It uses braces and custom-fabricated dental appliances to move your teeth into proper alignment, fixing bite issues and jaw misalignment in the process.
NFO is frequently used as a preventative measure to preempt TMD, especially in children who are predisposed to the disorder. The following signs might indicate that your child is at risk to develop TMD:
- Crowded baby teeth
- Over jet
- Grinding on baby teeth
- Chronic allergies causing consistent mouth breathing
- Mouth breathing while sleeping
Many of these warning signs deal with airway issues. In general, upper airway obstruction in children is a strong indicator that they will develop TMD or other bite problems in the future. Improper upper airway functioning can lead to serious sleep issues, including sleep apnea. Children who do not receive proper restful sleep often experience drops in their IQ by up to 10 points, and are at greater risk of developing ADHD.
Sleep apnea causes many other serious medical complications. It can lower your life expectancy by 15%, which would knock about 12 years off of the average American's lifespan. Sleep apnea has also been linked to cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure.
Neuromuscular Functional Orthodontics as a Treatment for TMD:
NFO is also a very effective method for treating TMD. It uses traditional neuromuscular dentistry to find where your bite should be aligned, and then orthodontically moves your teeth there. An orthotic device is used during the first phase of treatment to as a diagnostic tool to determine the ideal bite position. Once the orthotic has done its work, your teeth will be more permanently moved into the correct place using braces.
NFO can also be used to correct:
- Destructive forces that cause excessive wear and chipping of front teeth
- Severe crowding or spacing
- Cross bite of front and back teeth
- Limited tongue space
- Over closure of your bite
Please contact Dr. Ikuta today to schedule a free consultation. Our experienced dentists can help you correct all of your neuromuscular dentistry problems.
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Meet Drs. Dennis and Deric Ikuta
Since his practice opened, Dr. Dennis has enthusiastically continued his postgraduate education in a variety of ways. He has received extensive training at the prestigious Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies (LVI), which is considered by many as the premier post graduate dental training center in the world.
Cosmetic dentist Dr. Dennis and his team are certified for Laser Dentistry and Bioliner (non-braces orthodontics). He has also been acknowledged in the publication "Guide to America's Top Dentists."
Deric graduated from the University of California, Davis with a degree in Biological Sciences in 2002 and was then accepted to the highly regarded University of the Pacific Dental School in San Francisco. He then went on to graduate from the University of the Pacific Dental School in 2005, and has been working with his father ever since.
Since receiving high marks on his National and State Boards, and receiving his degrees and license, Deric knows his learning and training will never be complete. If you aren't moving forward you are falling behind.
Deric has completed all of the LVI core curriculum, and passed his fellowship exam. At the time, he became LVI's youngest Fellow. Since obtaining his Fellowship, he has continued to take many classes from LVI, Fresno Madera Dental Society, and the International Association of Comprehensive Aesthetics.