WHAT IS PHYSIOLOGIC DENTISTRY?
Physiologic Based Dentistry (sometimes referred to as Neuromuscular Dentistry) is a unique discipline performed by specially-trained dentists. It’s an effective approach to treatment that identifies how symptoms of pain and headaches may be related to pathologic occlusion, or a ‘bad bite.’ Most of these problems arise due to muscles being forced into a position that is not ideal for their proper function.
“Physiology” is defined as the study of how living things and their parts function. As physiologic based dentists, we study the proper function of not only the joint and jaw position, but also the physiology of the muscles and other interrelated systems as well. Some examples of systems that play such related roles are posture, airway concerns, tongue position, and obstructive sleep apnea. Satisfying the balance with these accompanying systems is necessary to allow proper function without pain.
WHAT IS AN OPTIMAL BITE AND HOW DO YOU ‘FIND’ IT?
The optimal bite is the position of the lower jaw in relation to the skull that allows the surrounding muscles to function optimally, decompress the jaw joint, and promote an unobstructed airway space. It’s our goal as physiologic based dentists to find the optimal bite position using cues from anatomy along with equipment that provides nerve-mediated muscle relaxation and computerized feedback from the muscles. The doctor can then use a record of the optimal bite to make removable appliances for pain therapy or bite correction using porcelain crowns and veneers.
CAN A BAD BITE CAUSE HEADACHES & MIGRAINES?
Yes. A majority of pain experienced in the head and neck region actually comes from muscles. These muscles produce pain when they are not able to comfortably perform their function in the restrictive jaw position which they are limited to. The pain comes from a buildup of lactic acid in the fatigued muscle or tension that the overworked muscle is placing on another structure, like a blood vessel or nerve. When the system is overloaded with too much tension and accompanied by certain stimuli, the migraine is initiated.
HOW CAN NECK PAIN BE RELATED TO A BAD BITE?
Your head is essentially a 14 lb. bowling ball sitting on a pencil. What keeps your head upright? Your muscles! The muscles on the back of your head and neck offset the muscles on the front of your head and neck. All of the major muscle groups on the front of your head and neck are in some way attached to your jaw. When the jaw is not in an optimal position, the muscles of the neck can be affected due to this relationship causing pain and discomfort.