Neuromuscular dentistry is a dental treatment philosophy intended to correct a “malalignment”of the jaw at the temporomandibular joint and produce a balanced bite. The neuromuscular dentist uses several computerized instruments to measure your jaw movements and jaw muscle activity to determine the extent of your problem and to establish a “physiologic rest position” for the jaw. Here are some of the measurement techniques and procedures used:
Once the rest position of the jaw is determined, the patient undergoes extensive restorative dental procedures or orthodontics to maintain this new position.
Neuromuscular dentistry can cost from $3,500 to $25,000+ for 4-6 months to one year or more of treatment. Insurance companies typically do not cover the TMJ- related costs due to the lack of a scientific evidence base for such treatment.
According to the American Association For Dental Research’s March 3, 2010 Policy Statement on Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD) “…the consensus of recent scientific literature about currently available technological diagnostic devices for TMDs is that except for various imaging modalities, none of them shows the sensitivity and specificity required to separate normal subjects from TMD patients or to distinguish among TMD subgroups.” In other words, those who practice neuromuscular dentistry have their own standards for what are normal and abnormal readings which may lead to a “false positive” - meaning people may be told they have a TMJ problem when they really don’t, leading to unnecessary treatments.
Neuromuscular dentistry is NOT a specialty recognized by the American Dental Association. Although a variety of healthcare providers advertise themselves as TMJ specialists, treatments available today are based largely on beliefs, not on scientific evidence.
This article was reviewed for accuracy by Dr. Daniel Laskin, the TMJA's clinical consultant.