What is Neuromuscular Dentistry?
Neuromuscular Dentistry (NMD) is the science of dentistry that embodies accepted scientific principles of patho-physiology, anatomy, form and function. NMD objectively evaluates the complex relationship between teeth, temporomandibular joints and the masticatory muscles in order to achieve an occlusion that is based on the optimal relationship between the mandible and the skull — Neuromuscular Occlusion. The goal of the Neuromuscular Dentist is to relax the muscles controlling jaw position to establish a true physiological rest position upon which treatment considerations are based.
In summary, NMD is the science of occlusion encompassing not only the teeth, but the objective evaluation of the status and function of the jaw muscles and joints — before, during and after treatment — to achieve the optimal result.
Why is Neuromuscular Dentistry Important and is there Scientific Support for its Efficacy?
Occlusion is the foundation of dentistry. It is of key importance in the success of every major dental procedure. Occlusion is affected by a triad of factors — the teeth, the muscles and the temporomandibular joints. Traditional dentistry has focused on the teeth — what might be called “one-dimensional” dentistry. Neuromuscular Dentistry (NMD) is a term that has been applied to the additional consideration of the “second & third dimensions” — muscles and TM joints.
The limited time in the dental curriculum makes it difficult enough for schools to prepare dentists to deal with the teeth. Muscles and joints typically get a cursory once-over. As dentists go into practice, it is not uncommon to hear them say that they have done procedures “by the book” and yet have less than satisfactory results. Or, that a case is so complex they refer the case out rather than treat it themselves.
Neuromuscular Dentists commonly report that taking muscle and joint status into consideration aids them in optimizing treatment, minimizing the times that they are “surprised” by less than ideal outcomes, and gives them the added insight needed to treat complex cases. There is a significant body of literature published over the past 35 years that supports the efficacy of neuromuscular dental principles.