What Makes a Neuromuscular Dentist Different?

Boutique Dentistry for Nashville, Tennessee

You might think that all dentists are the same, but they’re not. It’s true that all dentists have graduated from an accredited dental school. And it’s true that all dentists have to take continuing education classes so they can stay up-to-date in the latest developments in dentistry.

But some dentists, like Nashville neuromuscular dentist Dr. Kent E. White, aren’t content with just staying up-to-date. They want to stay at the leading edge of dentistry and even push that edge forward with their understanding and insight. Being treated by these dentists can make a dramatic difference in the treatments you receive. And one area where this makes a difference is in the treatment of jaw and bite disorders with neuromuscular dentistry.

How Mainstream Dentists See Bite Problems

Traditionally, dentists work on teeth. Kind of by extension, they also work on related parts of the mouth, like gums and the tongue. But you don’t have to work on teeth very long to realize that not all tooth problems can be solved with tooth-level solutions. Something else is involved.

Well, for mainstream dentistry, that “something else” is often the jaw joint. It makes sense that they’d fixate on the joint: it’s the point of articulation for jaw movement, and it’s clear that when the teeth don’t fit together right, the joint gets displaced.

As a side benefit, the joint is easy for dentists to image and diagnose. The bones are hard tissue–they show up great on a dentist’s imaging tool of choice, the x-ray. Many dentists were already using panoramic x-rays, which can sweep the entire jaw, and panoramic x-ray companies began to offer imaging of the jaw joint as a feature of their machines. It was an easy transition. Dentists began treating jaw and bite problems by using orthotics and even tooth reshaping to get the jaw positioned properly.

This helped some patients and dentists found a new revenue stream, so it seemed like a win for everyone.

Everyone, that is, except the patients who couldn’t be helped–and might be hurt–by this approach to jaw treatment. It didn’t work for everyone because it was missing a major element of jaw disorders.

Dr. White with a patient

The Neuromuscular Dentistry Insight

Neuromuscular dentists realize what is missing from the simple system of teeth, bones, and joint: soft tissues like muscles, nerves, and others. In fact, muscles are responsible for most of the pain that comes from bite problems, and it’s the muscles that can cause the most problems in bite disorders. Muscle disorders can cause constant, destructive force on the jaw and teeth. This not only makes the muscles sore, it breaks down the teeth, bones, and joints.

Neuromuscular dentists understand this and strive to treat these disorders where it matters most: in the muscles.

But diagnosing and treating muscle disorders is very different from what most dentists do. Becoming a neuromuscular dentist requires extensive additional training–it’s not going to be achieved by a dentist who just takes the state-mandated minimum continuing education credits. And measuring the muscles requires an entirely different tool set, one that not only looks at the position of the jaw, but the state of the jaw in motion. Neuromuscular dentists measure the exertion of the muscles, the pressure this results in, and the functional properties of the jaw in motion.

This gives neuromuscular dentists a more complete view of the health or disorder of the jaw. As a result, many patients get benefits from treatment from a neuromuscular dentist who might not get benefit from mainstream dentists.

Are You Looking for a Leader in Dentistry?

All dentists are students in the treatment of teeth and joints, but few are teachers. Dr. White has been recognized as one of the leading teachers of neuromuscular dentistry in the nation, and he brings his unique insight to bear helping patients who have not been able to get the results they want from more conventional dentists.

To learn whether Dr. White can help you, please call (615) 383-6787 today for an appointment at Center of Advanced Dentistry.