There are many dentists to choose from in Columbia, so how do you find the right one for you? Many of the reasons why you should choose a dentist are easy to remember: you want one that’s reasonably convenient, one that is friendly, and, of course, one whose experience and expertise give you full confidence that you will receive quality care.
In getting quality care, there’s one factor you likely haven’t thought of: is the dentist a neuromuscular dentist? That’s because many people haven’t heard of neuromuscular dentistry and its benefits.
What Is Neuromuscular Dentistry?
Neuromuscular dentistry is dentistry that focuses on the entire system of your mouth. The word “dentist” comes from the Latin for “tooth,” and many dentists think of themselves as tooth doctors, who look at the teeth themselves, and maybe a little bit at the surroundings to make sure the teeth aren’t falling out.
A neuromuscular dentist looks at your teeth not just in themselves, but as part of the functional system of your mouth, including the way that the bones, muscles, ligaments, and cartilage of your jaw joint work together to move your teeth.
Benefits of a Neuromuscular Dentist
Because of his different perspective, a neuromuscular dentist has a different approach to making dental restorations. For example, if you crack a tooth, a conventional dentist might just put a dental crown on that tooth, but a neuromuscular dentist will ask the question, “Why did that tooth crack?” and identify potential excess force that can lead the crown to fail early. By adjusting bite force, a neuromuscular dentist may be able to extend the life of the crown as well as potentially prevent other teeth from cracking.
Similarly, if a poor bite has led to your front teeth getting worn down or cracking from stress, a conventional cosmetic dentist might recommend porcelain veneers. Although these can build your teeth up to their former length and give them a smooth, attractive exterior, they are likely to fail early because of the excessive bite force that led to the teeth wear. A neuromuscular dentist will help adjust your bite so that when your porcelain veneers are placed, they’re more likely to last their full lifetime (10 years or more).
A neuromuscular dentist will also make sure that all new restorations fit properly, and do not cause an imbalance in your bite that can lead to jaw pain and worse.
Scientific Treatment of TMJ
Neuromuscular dentists are also distinguished by their scientific approach to treating jaw joint problems. Scientific diagnosis can be performed with the aid of the K7 diagnostic tool, which includes three instruments: electronic jaw tracking, electromyograph, and electrosonograph. Computerized jaw tracking allows us to determine the precise path of your jaw through its entire range of motion, so we can detect slight variations you may not have noticed that could signal problems. The electromyograph measures the activity level of your muscles, so we can tell when we have achieved the maximum rest position for your jaw. Finally, the electrosonograph allows us to measure the sound of your jaw joint, so we can detect subtle sounds and measure them precisely.
Once we have identified jaw problems that may be related to excessive muscle tension in your jaw, we can use TENS (transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation), a kind of electric massage, to release tension and relieve many symptoms of TMJ.
At Smile Columbia Dentistry, all our dentists are neuromuscular dentists. In fact, both Dr. Paul Hahn and Dr. Adam Hahn are LVI Fellows, a rare distinction conferred on only 8 dentists in South Carolina, and only two here in Columbia–that’s right, Dr. Paul and Dr. Adam are the only LVI fellows practicing in Columbia. To learn more about neuromuscular dentistry and how it can help you, please contact Smile Columbia Dentistry or call (803) 781-9090 in Columbia, SC today for an appointment.