Helping To Relieve Headaches: Tyler, Texas
Dr. Coker and his team members have previously taken many hours of training in neuromuscular dentistry, but last week they had an update. A trainer from Savanah was flown in and spent two days at the office getting everyone updated.
A neuromuscular dentist is trained in the relationship of the muscles and nerves with the teeth and bones in the jaw. Neuromuscular dentistry is a way to treat TMJ disorder. Temporomandibular joint disorder can be hard to identify and treat because it has so many symptoms. A few of the symtoms include:
- Migraines and other severe headaches
- Facial pain
- Numbness in fingers or arms
- Restricted jaw movement
- Excess wear, chipping, or cracking of teeth or restorations
- Unexplained loose teeth
- Recurring pain or constant soreness around the jaw joints or ears
The training is intense and exacting, but the team knows how rewarding it is when patients who have been in extreme pain can finally get some relief.
To reduce or alleviate TMJ pain the jaw’s ideal rest position must be found. That begins with Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) which is like an electrical massage.
Once the jaw muscles have been relaxed it is followed with computerized jaw tracking, electromyography and electrosonography. You know if it involves such big words and computerized equipment, it can be pretty technical for the team to learn.
We recently hosted a learning opportunity for a group of dentists who were here to clinically brush up on their skills with a type of dentistry called neuromuscular. But, they were also here to interact and have fun with one another as they were learning.
ABOVE: Dr. Durham (Savannah), Dr. Coker (Tyler) and Dr. Westersund (Calgary)
BELOW: Dr. Berlin (McKinney), Dr. Strickland (Savannah), Dr. McKay (Seattle)
The group was also treated to 3-days of a plant-based diet. They told us that they were more worried about having to eat a “vegan” diet than they were about learning new clinical skills. However, by the end of the week-end, they all commented that they didn’t realize plant-based foods could be so good.
ABOVE: Dr. Mack (Edna), Joleen (Edna), Dr. Berlin (McKinney), Dr. Incrapera (Houston), Dr. McKay (Seattle)
BELOW: Mary (Tyler), Cylisa (Tyler), Leah (Tyler), Dr. Durham (Savannah), Ronda (Tyler)
Neuromuscular dentistry is used for people who have a lot of head, neck and/or jaw pain. After years of patched up fillings or just clenching or gritting their teeth, many patients have ended up with quite a bit of pain. Part of the treatment involves having the patient sit and relax for about an hour with electrodes pasted on their head and neck. These pulsing electrodes actually manage to get the pain points to relax.
At that point, the patient will be fitted with some really high-tech equipment and measurements are taken as he puts his teeth together. After those measurements are analyzed, impressions are taken of the upper and lower teeth and then placed on an articulator so the new relaxed relationship of the teeth is kept in place. Eventually a removeable splint is custom made for the patient to wear for 3-6 months. Sometimes, if the patient has been nearly locked into his painful position, it could be necessary to do another session of relaxation, measurement and impressions with another splint made to make sure his teeth are finally in a position of comfort.
Most patients find such relief from all of this work that they do not want to go without their splint. At that point, their teeth can be fitted with new porcelain crowns or veneers to keep their teeth in that most wonderful, comfortable position without having to continuously wear their splint.
As you may be able to tell from the above description, it is not a technique that most dentists wish to learn as it is very technical for the dentist and his team to learn and it is very expensive to purchase all the the necessary high-tech equipment needed. But, for those patients who are in extreme pain, it is definitely worth it to find such a skilled dentist.