Orthodontic Practice US

Dentomandibular sensorimotor dysfunction: what it is and how providing care can benefit orthodontic practices and their patients

May/June 2013 Volume 4 Number 3

Dr. Ronald Cohen explores a systematic approach to a painful disorder of the head and neck before orthodontic therapy 

Abstract

Dentomandibular sensorimotor dysfunction (DMSMD) is a frequently painful disorder of the head and neck, temporomandibular joints (TMJ), jaw function, and dental forces. The force distortion causing DMSMD may adversely impact the long term stability and reliability of dental restorations and adaptations that patients have received for unrelated conditions. A thorough knowledge of the problems and a comprehensive assessment/treatment approach with which to resolve them are pivotal to helping orthodontists and general dentists ensure the integrity of natural teeth and current and future dental work, as well as minimize or eliminate pain and other negative symptoms. This article discusses dentomandibular sensorimotor dysfunction and demonstrates a case in which a systematic approach to its treatment was undertaken prior to initiating orthodontic therapy.

Introduction

Dentomandibular sensorimotor dysfunction (DMSMD) is a frequently painful disorder of the head and neck, temporomandibular joints (TMJ), jaw function, and dental forces. It stems from misalignments in the physiology of the skull and mandible that result in problems with bite force, muscle movement, and/or balance of joints, leading patients to experience extreme amounts of force or improper/unbalanced dental forces.1,2

Individuals with force issues — many of whom might not even realize that their conditions stem from DMSMD or that dentists can provide effective treatment for it — suffer from many diverse symptoms. Those that directly impact the teeth and mandible include abfraction, bruxism, tooth erosion, fracture, or damage; instability in the dental arch form; jaw clenching (with or without the formation of a torus); temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD); and clicking and popping of the jaw. Other seemingly disparate, yet highly disruptive symptoms associated with DMSMD, include chronic headaches and migraines, sleep disorders, tinnitus, myofascial pain, poor airway issues, compensatory adaptations in posture, and limited range of motion.1-3

Physiologic interconnections also contribute to complications in understanding, assessing, and treating this complex condition. For instance, although DMSMD is not the sole trigger of migraines — hormones, sleep problems, nutrition, and other factors may play a role as well — its connection to the trigeminal nerve is thought to be a likely contributor to many cases of migraines. The trigeminal nerve generates impulses that cause blood vessels on the brain to swell, thus transmitting pain messages to the brainstem.4

Patients with DMSMD, and dentists seeking to treat the condition’s complications, may encounter other challenges as well. For example, force distortion may adversely impact the long-term stability and reliability of dental restorations and adaptations that patients have received for unrelated conditions. This will necessitate additional treatment to achieve optimal function and to protect dental interventions from irregular forces.1,2

Prevalence of and problems to treating related conditions

These often debilitating conditions, outcomes, and complications are not isolated cases affecting a relative few. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, the number of Americans who suffer from TMJ and associated problems may range from 10 to 45 million individuals,5 and when the number includes those suffering from tinnitus and other conditions, the number rises to an estimated 80 million people. Even more prevalent and impactful, approximately 90% of the U.S. population has headaches, and individuals who suffer from migraines—estimated at more than 29 million Americans — lose between 157 million days of work and school annually.6 Research indicates that up to 80% of headaches result from some type of dental force-related problem.

There are many aspects to understanding and treating DMSMDrelated conditions. For effective, long lasting, and predictable results to be achieved, it is imperative that healthcare professionals and their patients understand DMSMD; why it occurs; its not-always readily- apparent connections to other physiologic components and factors; the importance of properly diagnosing and treating it; the most effective methods/ protocols for assessing and treating it; and who is best equipped to provide such assessment and treatment. Unless DMSMD is properly addressed, a patient’s condition will not improve; rather it will worsen and likely become chronic, and existing and future dental restorations may consequently fail. A thorough knowledge of the problems and a comprehensive assessment/treatment approach with which to resolve them are pivotal to helping orthodontists and general dentists ensure the integrity of natural teeth and current and future dental work, as well as minimize or eliminate pain and other negative symptoms.

Until recently, healthcare professionals who sought to help patients address their DMSMD-related distress faced numerous obstacles. Many patients, ignorant of the cause of their problems and having exhausted over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications, as well as non-pharmacological options, such as physical medicine,6 abandoned their search for solutions and resigned themselves to enduring lives of chronic pain and diminished quality of life. Of those individuals who persisted in seeking help, typically only one in five sought out a physician’s assistance after having no success with OTC remedies.5 Orthodontists and general dentists, in particular, have largely been overlooked in favor of physician-based healthcare providers and chiropractors, who are more likely to be considered “headache/migraine experts” by the public. Additionally, dental professionals and their teams lacked an integrated system and the training necessary to provide complete care for DMSMD-related cases. 

Why Dentists are Uniquely Suited

Orthodontists and general dentists, recognized experts in oral health, also are knowledgeable about and trained in managing the muscular and nervous components of the jaw, neck, and head, according to the American Dental Association. As such, dental professionals can take a leading role in treating issues relating to DMSMD, TMJ, and associated problems.8,9 Incorporating a system for assessing and treating improper dental forces that cause painful conditions in the mouth, head, face, and neck areas represents an exciting and significant opportunity for dentists to be of service to their patients while also benefiting their dental teams and practices. Those who elect to offer patients assessment and treatment for DMSMD and associated conditions have a competitive edge, distinguishing themselves, their dental teams, and practices as comprehensive providers of an array of overall health services in the convenience of a practice they’re already familiar with.

This patient- and practice-enhancing opportunity is possible through the use of a state-of-the-art proprietary system (TruDenta, Dental Resource Systems, Inc., www.DRSdoctor.com). The only comprehensive approach to the assessment, treatment, and resolution of DMSMD conditions, it offers orthodontists and general dentists a Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-cleared, conservative care strategy that can be customized for managing pain and inflammation, restoring range of motion and function, and reestablishing stabilization to the mouth, jaw and head.

Dentists and dental teams who add TruDenta capabilities to their practices are uniquely trained and equipped to offer their existing patients complete care from professionals they already know and trust, as well as attract new patients by establishing themselves as experts in providing a proven assessment and therapy that employs objective and subjective methods and state-of-the-art technologies found in less than 1% of all dental offices in the United States today.10 These combine to enable them to comprehensively assess, treat, and manage/monitor patients’ chronic headache and face, TMJ/D, neck, and other head area pain, as well as other dental force-related conditions.

Case Presentation

The case that follows demonstrates the straightforward manner in which the TruDenta system enables orthodontists and their teams to achieve successful treatment and rehabilitation outcomes through a compelling visual and objective assessment, as well as scientifically based, systematic, and predictable treatment methods and technologies derived from sports medicine to offer a customized pathway of care.

A 21-year-old woman presented complaining of soreness of the mouth and jaws due to clenching and grinding. The patient received a complete examination that included a head health, medical, and headache history, and a pharmacological assessment. Dental, periodontal, airway, orthodontic, and occlusal examinations also were undertaken.

The patient showed symptoms of muscle pain and headache pains. She claimed pain in the jaw joint, ear, and side of the face. There was a history of popping and clicking, and headaches on the side of the head. She claimed tightness of the jaws in the morning, and that her jaws became tired when chewing. There was history of soreness in the eye and ear areas, as well as neck and shoulder pain. She indicated that she experienced the pain daily, and that she was tired of it. Fortunately, she had no history of previous treatment for this condition, something that is rare in stomatognathic patients, since many have tried myriad treatments and healthcare professionals prior to seeing orthodontists. The patient reported that she regularly took Excedrin, Tylenol, and Allegra-D to combat her symptoms, but that they were becoming unmanageable with those medications.

Upon palpation, the patient showed 6/10 tenderness to palpation of the lateral pterygoinds, masseter muscles, temporalis tendons, and right posterior belly of the temporalis with trigger points. Additionally, she showed 7/10 in the right SCM and bilateral occipital insertion of the trapezius muscles. Her opening range of motion was restricted to 42 mm, with a deviation to the right and a restricted right range of motion as well. Diagnostics included cephalgia 784.0, muscle spasm 728.85, and headache 339.1.

Crucial to establishing the severity of sensorimotor dysfunction, any abnormal, excessive, or imbalanced forces were identified objectively using mandibular range of motion (ROM) disability, cervical range of motion disability (digitally), and digital force analysis (TruDenta Scan). The ROM portion of the diagnostic process provides objective data conforming to American Medical Association (AMA) guidelines (Figure 1).

The patient’s T-Scan testing showed significant anterior prematurity with heavy force values (Figure 2). This was further confirmed by cone beam CT generated corrected tomograms, which proved distally trapped condyles due to occlusal forces and positions (Figures 3 and 4). Clench T-Scan demonstrated further the extent of the anterior prematurity and the significance of the resulting condylar position (Figures 5 and 6).

Treatment Protocol

Treatment was planned to achieve relief of the neuromuscular problems as documented, followed by alignment and balancing of the mandible, dentition, and force values, as well as alleviate pain. Treatment recommendations consisted of office visits, manual muscle testing, ROM testing, TMJ ultrasound, applied electrical stimulation, manual muscle therapy, cold laser therapy, therapeutic exercises, home care instructions, occlusal analysis, occlusal orthopedic device (NU modifier), and self-care home management training.

Stabilization goals included orthodontic therapy utilizing SureSmile® (OraMetrix) advanced 3D technology once muscle stability was achieved. Diagnostic simulations indicated that lower incisor extraction was indicated to allow elimination of anterior dental prematurities and forward positioning of the condyles. Once achieved, equilibration would be undertaken to stabilize the dental forces within the new balanced stomatognathic envelope.

Treatment Outcome

The patient’s treatment consisted of five weekly in-office visits of therapeutic rehabilitation using cold laser therapy, ultrasound therapy, low-level electrical current stimulation, and manual muscle therapy. A custom rehabilitation orthotic for the mouth was also worn at home until we began the maxillary orthodontic treatment.

At 5 weeks, the patient’s condition had improved sufficiently so that orthodontic therapy could begin in order to eliminate the obvious dental deflective interferences (Figures 1, 7, and 8). Extraction of tooth No. 24 and placement of full fixed orthodontic appliances occurred in February 2012 (Figure 9). The SureSmile therapeutic scan was made in June 2012 so that the final plan could be fabricated virtually (Figure 10), and the robotic wires were prescribed to finalize her case. A total of three prescription wires were delivered, and the patient was debonded in January 2013, for a total orthodontic treatment time of 11 months (Figures 11 and 12).

Dental bite force balance was confirmed at her immediate post-treatment conference in February 2013 with the T-Scan and ROM analysis, which revealed virtually normal ROM measurements and significantly lessened anterior prematurity (Figures 1, 13, and 14). We have equilibrated once so far, and she is scheduled to finalize her equilibration at her next appointment, with additional follow-up T Scans to verify force balance (Figures 15-17). The patient reports a much improved sense of her teeth “fitting together,” no muscle spasms or headaches, and an incredibly positive experience with her treatment.

Conclusion

With the acceptance and incorporation of a comprehensive assessment and treatment system, orthodontic practices have the opportunity to expand the scope of services they provide to patients looking to resolve the TMJ/D and head pain issues associated with dental force related problems. The proprietary TruDenta system, which incorporates assessment devices and therapeutic technology derived from sports medicine, uniquely empowers orthodontists to offer a proven, long-term solution and customized pathway to care for DMSMD-related conditions.

Treating patients with TruDenta is straightforward; treatments are simple, quick, effective, painless, and require no drugs or needles. Many dental practices offering the TruDenta pathway to care — including orthodontic practices — have reported that, within a 10- to 12-week period, their patients experienced life altering relief from their chronic pain.

Additionally, it now gives us the ability to properly balance our finished orthodontic cases like never before. The combination of SureSmile virtual diagnostic and robotic treatment, and TruDenta force value detailing finally gives us the tools to perfectly finish our cases for maximum stomatognathic function and stability. It’s a dream that has finally become a reality.

References

1. Junge D. Oral Sensorimotor Function. Medico Dental Media International, Inc.: 1998.

2. Sessle BJ. Mechanisms of oral somatosensory and motor functions and their clinical correlates. J Oral Rehabil. 2006;33(4):243-261.

3. Okeson JP. Management of Temporomandibular Disorders and Occlusion. 6th ed. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby; 2008.

4. US News Health. Headache. US News and World Report. 2006. http://health.usnews.com/healthconditions/ brain-health/headache. Accessed July 3, 2012.

5. Adults. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research Web site. http://www.nidcr.nih.gov/ Data Statistics/By Population/Adults. Accessed December 7, 2012.

6. Migraine. National Headache Foundation Web site. http:// www.headaches.org/education/ Headache_Topic_Sheets/Migraine. Accessed July 3, 2012.

7. Ostler GL. Building professional referral relationships with physicians. Dental Economics. 2012. http://www.dentaleconomics. com/articles/print/volume-96/issue-12/features/buildingprofessional-referral-relationshipswith-physicians.html. Accessed July 3, 2012.

8. Sardella A, Demarosi F, Lodi G, Canegallo L, Rimondini L, Carrassi A. Accuracy of referrals to a specialist oral medicine unit by general medical and dental practitioners and the educational implications. J Dent Educ. 2007;71(4):487-491.

9. Dentists: Doctors of Oral Health. American Dental Association Web site. http://www. ada.org/4504.aspx. Accessed July 3, 2012.

10. TruDenta. http://www.trudenta. com. Accessed January 22, 2013.

Add TruDenta to Your Orthodontic Practice and give patients another reason to smile. For more information, call 1-855-770-4002 or visit drsdoctor.com/ortho

 

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Assessment & Treatment
  • Assessment Process
  • Treatment Process
  • Only Dental Professionals
  • Assessing DMSD
  • Bite Force Analysis
  • Mandibular Range of Motion
  • Cervical Range of Motion

Only Dental Professionals

In many cases, only dental professionals can help the estimated 80 million Americans suffering from the painful symptoms caused by improper dental forces, called dentomandibular sensorimotor dysfunction (DMSD).

READ MORE "...it is imperative to include the training for orofacial pain, particularly those from temporomandibular joint and musculoligamentous tissues.” JADA Cover Story, 10/2015, Vol. 146, Issue 10, Pg. 721-728

Assessing DMSD

20% of your existing patients suffer from DMSD, as do 20% of all Americans. Your team members quickly assess patients for "red flags" (which indicate DMSD), utilizing TruDenta's patented technologies.

The National Institutes of Health estimate that over 80 million Americans suffer from one or more of the symptoms of DMSD, including:
• Chronic Headache
• Migraine
• Tinnitus
• TMJ/D
• Vertigo
READ MORE

Bite Force Analysis

TruDenta uses digital force measurement technology, powered by Tekscan®, for evaluating the amount of bite force that is present during closure, at closure, and while chewing. The technology is so advanced that it actually calculates the bite force and motion on a tooth-by-tooth basis. This digital exam literally shows a movie of the bite force in action revealing abnormal forces in the nerves, muscles and ligaments that are often the cause of symptoms.

Bite balance is also calculated to identify potential issues within the overall chewing system. READ MORE

Mandibular Range of Motion

A normal opening for an adult is 53 mm to 57 mm. Limited or restricted range of motion (less than 40 mm) is a reduction in an individual’s ability for normal range of movement. Along with opening movement, an individual should be able to slide their jaw to the left and to the right at least 25 percent of their total mouth opening in a symmetrical fashion.

When restricted movement exists, an imbalance in the system is present, and breakdown of the system is likely to occur. READ MORE

Cervical Range of Motion

The TruDentaROM is a system of hardware and software that digitally measures cervical range of motion (ROM) impairment based upon AMA guidelines. This directly affects the proprioceptive feedback system of the dental occlusion, TMJ, and the muscles of mastication.

ROM impairment is another “red flag” which assists doctors in accurately diagnosing symptoms that are often dental force related. This data enhances medical insurance collections and the collaboration with referring medical doctors. READ MORE

  • Doctor Chair Time
  • Therapeutic Ultrasound
  • Microcurrent Stimulation
  • Low-Level Cold Laser

Less Than One Hour Doctor Chair Time

A typical case requires less than one hour of doctor time in the diagnosis and minor occlusal adjustments during the rehabilitation period.

Treatments are performed by a trained team member once per week, in less than one hour. The most severe cases require 12 treatments. Therapies are spa-like, non-invasive and require no drugs or needles. Most patients report dramatic results after the very fist treatment. Note: The majority of patients utilize an orthotic only during the treatment period, up to a maximum of 12 weeks. READ MORE

Therapeutic Ultrasound

The goal of therapeutic ultrasound treatment is to return circulation to sore, strained muscles through increased blood flow and heat. Another goal is to break up scar tissue and deep adhesions through sound waves.

Therapeutic exposure to ultrasound reduces trigger point sensitivity and has been indicated as a useful clinical tool for managing myofacial pain. Additionally, ultrasound also has been shown to evoke antinociceptive effects on trigger points. READ MORE

Microcurrent Stimulation

Sub-threshold microcurrent stimula¬tion reduces muscle spasm and referral pain through low electrical signal. It also decreases lactic acid build-up and encourages healthy nerve stimulation. In particular, microcurrent electrotherapy has been shown to help increase mouth opening significantly.

• Reduces muscle spasm and referral pain through low electrical signal
• Decreases lactic acid build-up
• Encourages healthy nerve stimulation
• Increases mouth opening significantly
READ MORE

Low-Level Cold Laser

Low level laser/light therapy is one of the most widely used treatments in sports medicine to provide pain relief and rehabilitation of injuries. Over 200 randomized clinical trials have been published on low level laser therapy, half of which are on pain.

Low level laser/light therapy decreases pain and inflammation, accelerates healing of muscle and joint tissue 25 to 35 percent faster than without treatment, and reconnects neurological pathways of nerves to the brain stem, thereby inhibiting pain. READ MORE

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