Do you have frequent headaches? Is your jaw sore and tense? Do you suffer from pain and stiffness in your neck? If so, you may be suffering from TMJ, and TENS is one of the most important tools in TMJ treatment. TENS is a type of electric massage, helping to relax your muscles and release painkilling natural compounds. It can give instant relief, and for some people, it may be the only TMJ treatment necessary.
This page can help you understand what TENS is and how it works, but the best way to know if it’s right for you is to talk to a dentist in person. If you live in or around Columbia, please call (803) 781-9090 or email Smile Columbia Dentistry today to schedule your appointment.
What TENS Can Help with
TENS is primarily used to help in TMJ therapy, temporomandibular joint disorder, whose symptoms include:
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- Pain behind or around the eyes
- Jaw soreness
- Tooth soreness not related to decay or injury
- Neck pain
- Back pain
- Tingling in the arms or hands
TMJ is characterized by an imbalanced jaw that results in muscle tension in the jaw, neck, and head. TMJ therapy using TENS relieves this muscle tension, allowing a neuromuscular dentist to diagnose your bite and decide whether additional treatments are necessary.
How TMJ Therapy Works
TENS is short for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. In other words, electrodes are attached to your skin that stimulate your nerves. There are many kinds of TENS that can cause many different effects.
In our office, we use low-frequency TENS that causes your muscles to contract and relax in a precise sequence and at a scientifically determined rate so they are able to work out tension and eliminate toxins—it’s like an electric-stimulated self-massage. In addition to relaxing your muscles, the TENS massage stimulates the release of endorphins, hormones that can block pain and improve your mood.
We also use TENS in creating our amazing Denture Fountain of Youth™ because TENSing helps us to find the ideal bite position for dentures that look and work like natural teeth.
TMJ Treatment beyond TENS
Once the TENS massage has relaxed your muscles, your neuromuscular dentist, Dr. Adam Hahn, can examine your teeth and jaw to determine whether additional treatment may be necessary. Using sophisticated equipment that produces objective measurements they determine the position of maximum rest for your muscles, and whether your jaw can rest comfortably in that position.
After TENS therapy, most people need additional treatment, such as mouthguards that are worn while you sleep, bite splints (also called orthotics) that are worn full time, dental restorations to build your bite back to healthy proportions, or, rarely, joint surgery.