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Neuromuscular Orthodontics Gold Coast

Neuromuscular Orthodontics Gold Coast

Neuromuscular orthodontics is a term used to describe the inclusion of neuromuscular information in orthodontic evaluation and treatment planning.

Traditional orthodontics has focused almost entirely on the skeletal (bone) structure of the teeth, jaw, and jaw joints. The Neuromuscular Dentist uses all this information but also gives careful study to the upper airway and the status of the muscles that control the posture and function of the jaw and the neck. By determining the cause of crooked teeth, airway problems and abnormal muscle forces can be corrected during neuromuscular treatment.

The goal is a balanced bite free of the muscle forces that might otherwise contribute to early relapse.

At Advanced Dental Care Clinic, our aim with Neuromuscular Orthodontics on the Gold Coast is to provide harmony and balance between the teeth, muscles and jaw joints of the head and neck to allow freedom for the body to function optimally.

Neuromuscular Orthodontics Gold Coast

What is Neuromuscular Dentistry or Neuromuscular Orthodontics?

Neuromuscular Orthodontics is also known as NMO or Braces. Traditional orthodontics is mostly retractive, pulling the teeth and jaw backward towards the ears with headgear under the assumption that the jaw and muscles will adjust to the new position. The treatment objective is straightening the teeth for purely cosmetic reasons. When there is crowding or crooked teeth an orthodontist will often recommend extracting several teeth, most commonly bicuspids, in order to create room to align the remaining teeth. Making the teeth straight is the primary concern, so little to no regard is given to airway, tongue space/position or the jaw joint. Receding lower jaws, those that are further back than the upper arch, are often treated with an invasive & irreversible surgical approach.

This type of treatment can result in a narrow maxilla and mandible (upper and lower arch), airway restriction resulting in breathing difficulties, a high vaulted palate causing improper tongue posture and over compressed jaw joints. Poor functional habits such as mouth breathing, tongue thrust, improper tongue posture, abnormal swallowing patterns and clenching and grinding of the teeth are often overlooked resulting in a high probability of relapse and retreatment. However, it is noted that many patients with TMD symptoms will already have crooked teeth, narrow or high palates, improper tongue posture and compressed jaw joints with or without pain and other symptoms. Therefore, prior to the cosmetic correction of crooked teeth, the Neuromuscular dentist addresses the alignment of the jaws, the cause of this malalignment and aim to correct this first.

Neuromuscular dentistry is a process that involves skilled dental professionals who have taken many hours of continuing education in the discipline of working with the muscles and nerves of the body to create maximum balance, comfort, and function. This area of dental expertise places emphasis on establishing and maintaining an anatomically ideal jaw joint position for each individual patient.

How does Neuromuscular dentistry work?

While your face is rested, it is vitally important that your jaw can sit in an aligned and relaxed position. If your jaw is misaligned, you may experience painful symptoms that can worsen over time. Neuromuscular Dentistry (NMD) focuses on improving the relationship between your teeth, jaw joints and muscles. Firstly, the Neuromuscular Dentist will consider all the information gathered by taking your history and doing a physical examination of your teeth, head and neck. When indicated, they may conduct a series of tests using non-invasive electronic instruments to study muscle status and jaw function. Data from these tests indicate whether your bite is a major contributing factor to your problem and will help to rule in or rule out the existing bite as a significant cause of your need for orthodontic treatment.

If these tests show that your habitual bite is a major cause of your need for orthodontics, the Neuromuscular Dentist then identifies a jaw position determined by the relaxed state of the muscles. This jaw position and the corresponding new bite is called Neuromuscular Occlusion.

Neuromuscular Diagnosis

Neuromuscular dentistry focuses on relaxing the muscles around the jaw with a specially made Transcutaneous Electrical Neural Stimulation (TENS) device. This ultra-low frequency device relaxes the muscles to give your practitioner the best chance of realigning your jaw. It takes about an 90 minutes of TENSing to get the best possible posture on that day.
We then use a K7 machine (a computer analysis) to establish the best position for your jaw while at rest and in motion. K7 works by using electromyography, sonography and jaw-tracking scans to listen to your jaw joint and record which muscles are experiencing tension.

You’ll be administered a personalised, custom-made orthotic device to fit over your lower teeth that gently realigns your jaw. This appliance will either be removable or fixed, and it works by maintaining a relaxed position in your jaw. This is worn 24 hours a day to allow the jaw and muscles to heal.

What do muscles have to do with teeth?

The muscles of the mouth and the head and neck affect our dental health and may have far reaching effects on our overall health. The teeth are surrounded by muscle, the cheeks and tongue. The forces of the muscles can affect facial development, tooth alignment, head posture, the function of the jaw and can also be the source of various types of head and neck pain and other symptoms.

Neuromuscular Orthodontics and TMJ/TMD Disorder

Neuromuscular orthodontics, or orthopedic functional orthodontics, is based upon a practical approach. The purpose is not simply straightening the teeth but aligning them harmoniously with the muscles and temporomandibular joint (TMJ). Neuromuscular orthodontics often serves as Phase 2 of TMJ Therapy. Receding lower jaws are often symptomatic of TMD and craniofacial pain due to over-compression of the jaw joints; therefore, neuromuscular orthodontics is usually performed to align the teeth to retain (or hold) the newly acquired joint position after the patient has successfully completed TMD therapy, or Phase 1 treatment. Crowding and narrow, vaulted arches are sometimes treated with expansion appliances. These appliances in conjunction with bodily functions such as chewing, swallowing and proper tongue posture create wider dental arches that can accommodate all the teeth by slowly transforming the underlying bone with the application of light pressure. The duration of this portion of the second phase of treatment is approximately 6 to 12 months and success directly correlate with compliance. Extractions and surgery are avoided as much as possible.

The remaining portion of Phase 2 consists of moving your teeth permanently into the precisely measured orthotic position achieved with Phase I treatment using highly specialized dentofacial orthopaedics, or braces. This portion of the treatment averages 18 to 24 months in duration with compliance. Not all patients require orthodontic treatment after Phase I NMD treatment. Some patients elect to have their teeth built up into the neuromuscular occlusion position using various materials like composite or porcelain.

The combination of these phases of treatment often result in the following aesthetic benefits in conjunction with the functional benefits:

  • a fuller, broader smile
  • fuller lips
  • a long-lasting youthful appearance
  • a non-surgical facelift – reduction of jowls, collapsed facial appearance, and loose/sagging skin
  • pleasing profile – eliminates deep lower lip creases and overbites
  • reduction of pain and symptoms associated with TMD
Frequently Asked Questions

A Neuromuscular Dentist objectively evaluates the complex relationship between teeth, temporomandibular joints and the masticatory muscles in order to achieve an occlusion that is based on the optimal relationship between the mandible and the skull, also called Neuromuscular Occlusion. The goal is to relax the muscles controlling jaw position in order to establish a true physiological rest position upon which treatment considerations are based.

In general, orthodontic treatment can range from using appliances, braces, plates, etc in order to achieve a better alignment of the teeth and jaws. Depending on the approach, it could be Neuromuscular Orthodontics, Functional Orthodontics, Orthopaedics, Conventional Braces, Removeable or Fixed appliances, Fastbraces®, Invisalign®, and the list goes on. It all depends on what the diagnosis is, as to what the treatment will entail.

In order to come to diagnosis, it is imperative to gather as much information as possible to achieve the best results. Various tests such as x-rays (OPG and Lateral ceph are most common); impressions of the upper and lower arches; measurements; analysis of these measurements; assessment of the head, neck, tongue posture, the occlusion or bite and any extra or missing teeth are all involved in assessing the situation.