Your jaw has many vital functions. It holds your teeth in place so you can chew. It allows you to speak, laugh, and keeps your soft tissues from sagging. Imagine if you didn’t have a jaw? Now imagine if your jaw wasn’t working properly? A jaw that doesn’t function properly can lead to TMJ, broken teeth, gum disease, and other related problems.
A Gneuromuscular dentist studies your jaw, how it affects the rest of your body and designs treatment with it in mind. With a gneuromuscular dentist, you aren’t just getting your teeth fixed. You might be inadvertently fixing other pains you didn’t know were jaw-related problems and avoiding jaw issues that can arise when treating your teeth.
It might seem odd to learn that your dentist keeps your body alignment in mind when delivering treatment. However, while we treat oral health and the health of the rest of your body with different doctors and different schools of thought, your entire body is connected. It’s not uncommon to hear of pain down your leg originating from your sciatica nerve (the nerve that begins in your lower pack and runs down both legs). Yet, people are often surprised to hear that their headaches, migraines, neck pain, shoulder pain, facial pain, and even ear pain are related to a misaligned jaw. That’s why one of the focuses of gneuromuscular dentistry is body alignment. We can realign your jaw to treat referred pain and radiating pain.
A type of TMJ disorder that stems from a misaligned jaw is “internal derangement of the joint.” Simply, the pain you feel is structural, not muscular, and it results in the slippage of your temporomandibular joint (jaw joint) from its socket. With this slippage, you likely hear clicking and popping sounds when you open and close your mouth. Since your entire body is connected, your jaw can pull on muscles and ligaments nearby, which you’ll feel as pain. Additionally, your misaligned jaw constantly slipping in and out of place is causing inflammation in the area that radiates to other parts of your body, like the nerves in your head that swell and cause headaches.
You also have nerves that run through your jaw joint. The largest of your cranial nerves, your trigeminal nerve, runs through your jaw joint and is thought to play a significant role in causing migraines. As you can see, focusing on body alignment allows your gneuromuscular dentist to treat seemingly unrelated pain and provides health and function on a holistic level.
The way your teeth fit together is called “occlusion.” When your bite is uneven, your teeth might come together with an overbite, underbite, or crossbite. An uneven bite can also mean crooked teeth. While you may want to fix your teeth for cosmetic purposes, having a proper bite provides other functions besides looks. With straight teeth and an accurate bite, you’ll experience fewer broken teeth, a lower risk of gum disease, and see improved jaw functions.
Your bite is affected by your jaw position. We already talked about some of the pain a misaligned jaw can cause, but there are other considerations, too. Your body will notice the lack of oxygen and wake you briefly to resume breathing. While a few seconds here and there may not seem like a big deal, it’s unlikely that you’ll make it through your entire sleep cycle without needing to be awakened, causing systemic problems. When your bite is off due to your jaw position, you’ll have a smaller airway blocked by your tongue, tonsils (if you still have them), and other soft tissues in your throat. With an accurate bite, you’ll enjoy a larger airway.
Optimal Jaw Function
A gneuromuscular dentist also focuses on the optimal function of your jaw. Your jaw allows you to chew and speak, which are vital to digestion and, for many, communicating. When a gneuromuscular dentist is working on realigning your jaw or teeth, they keep in mind the functions that your jaw has to perform and ensure the changes they’re making won’t impede or make them more difficult. If you’re looking for cosmetic dentistry and are considering a gneuromuscular dentist, you’re correct to assume that these two types of dentistry are interrelated.
Along with function, we know that your jaw and teeth are vital to your appearance and keep the cosmetics of your smile a top priority. With a gneuromuscular dentist, you can expect to get a treatment that reduces referred pain, keeps your teeth and airway healthy, allows your teeth and jaw to function correctly, and a beautiful, shining smile.
Avoid Unintentional Consequences
Of course, no dentist wants to cause you more pain or discomfort with treatment. However, this can sometimes happen when your teeth are treated individually instead of viewing your whole body as a system. It’s possible to get a filling that is too large, causing TMJ or orthodontic work that makes your airway smaller. Choose a dentist who has your whole health in mind and looks at the big picture. Choose a gneuromuscular dentist.
The Best Dentist in Anchorage, AK
When looking for the best dentist in Anchorage, Alaska, consider Dr. Kendall Skinner, one of two gneuromuscular dentists in Alaska and continues to add new skills to his repertoire through continued education. Don’t just treat your teeth. Treat your whole health with gneuromuscular dentistry. Call (907) 349-0022 or schedule an appointment online at Excellence in Dentistry in Anchorage.