At The Michigan Center For Advanced Dentistry
The purpose of TMJ treatment is to adjust your bite so that it is aligned and in proper balance. Using neuromuscular dental techniques, Dr. Serra finds the proper neuromuscular position of each patient’s TMJ joint and moves their bites to those positions, which corrects any imbalance and gets rid of their TMJ symptoms. Repositioning your TMJ will have an effect on the spine, head, and anything else connected to the TMJ by nerves, muscles, or blood vessels, which is why it is so critical to be sure that the procedure is done properly. When your TMJ is in its proper position, you will no longer have to deal with the never-ending symptoms because the strain and tension once put on your TMJ will be alleviated. TMJ treatment requires locating where the imbalance is within the joint and fixing it.
The TMJ Treatment Process
In order to treat TMJ disorder, there are various steps that need to be followed:
Establish The Baseline Performance Of Your Bite
Dr. Serra will use a K7 evaluation system which is used for jaw tracking, electromyography and joint sonography, to establish the baseline performance of your bite. Using this piece of hi-tech equipment, he will be able to see where and how your jaw moves when you open and close your mouth. The K7 will provide readings of the exertion the muscles must use when opening and closing your mouth, as well as when it is at rest. This bite analysis is completely painless aside from any discomfort you may usually feel when opening and closing your jaw.
Relax The Bite
Next, a TENS unit will be used. This technology sends ultra-low frequency electrical pulses to the muscles of your jaw and sometimes your neck. Using electrode pads that are applied to your skin using conductive gel, the pulses radiate and will rhythmically contract and relax your TMJ muscles. During this bite relaxation treatment, many patients report instant relief of their TMJ symptoms, such as jaw pain or migraines. Though this may seem like the answer, using a TENS system is only part of the process and provides only temporary relief.
Determine Your Ideal Bite
After TENSing, Dr. Serra will reconnect you with the K7 evaluation system and repeat the series of tests that he did before, but this time, your muscles will naturally find a more relaxed position of rest. The data recorded this time will help to properly locate where your bite should be.
Bite Splint Creation
Once Dr. Serra finds your ideal bite, his team will take an impression of your bite using bite registration material. A lab will use this bite impression to create an oral appliance known as a bite splint or a neuromuscular orthotic. The orthotic is meant to be worn over your teeth for a set period of time. The orthotic is used to help keep your TMJ in-line and retrain the muscles in your jaw. The splint can be used for a few weeks, or a few months or even indefinitely depending on the treatment plan that is right for you as determined by Dr. Serra. This is the most important part of TMJ treatment as it sets the stage for the next phase of treatment.
Deciding What’s Next
After using your bite splint for a period of time and your bite has been stabilized, you and Dr. Serra will decide what the next phase of your treatment will be. Depending on your bite’s unique needs, you be able to keep using it but only on a part-time basis as in a night guard. In other cases, Dr. Serra is able to make minor adjustments to the teeth called coronoplasty to bring the teeth into the bite position established by your orthotic. Sometimes orthodontic treatment is used to realign the teeth into the new bite, or in some cases, the patient opts to have a full mouth reconstruction, wherein Dr. Serra uses porcelain veneers and dental crowns to “instantly” realign and reshape the teeth into the new position. Many times, the solution is a combination of these treatments.
Schedule Your Consultation
Before you move forward with any TMJ treatment, take time to schedule a consultation time with us. Whether you live in the Detroit area or if you live elsewhere and are willing to travel to our Novi, Michigan dental office, you can call us at (248) 380-9330 or email us through our website. Booking a consultation online is also an option. Feel free to ask any questions or concerns you may have regarding TMJ treatment offered by Dr. Serra. We’re always glad to help.