What Is A Neuromuscular Dentist?

A Neuromuscular Dentist is a general dentist who has completed post-graduate training at a neuromuscular-focused institution.  The largest and most prestigious of these institutions is the Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies (LVI).  A neuromuscular dentist approaches every patient differently than other dentists.  They recognize the connection between muscles, joints and the teeth.  When observing a patient, they look for the root cause of any dysfunctions or concerns that they see instead of just treating the tooth alone.

The way that your upper and lower teeth come together (your bite or occlusion) is part of a system of teeth, muscles and joints. If your teeth do not fit together properly (misaligned bite), the muscles and joints have to work hard to get them together.

A misaligned bite often leads to muscles that are overworked when they should be relaxed, leading to various painful conditions. Neuromuscular dentistry considers the entire system that controls the positioning and function of your jaw. The neuromuscular dentist seeks to establish a physiologic jaw position based on a harmonious relationship of the three main factors affecting occlusion – the teeth, muscles and jaw joints. The resulting jaw position is called the neuromuscular bite.


Continue reading below to learn more or visit our page dedicated to TMD and Headaches or see our other articles.
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Treating TMD: “A Neuromuscular Dentist’s Domain”

TMJ, temporomandibular joint disorder, also called TMD, occurs when the function of your bite is out of harmony. The muscles, teeth, and bones aren’t working together properly, which can lead to clicking, popping, or discomfort in the jaw. It can also cause damage or wear on your teeth. But because the muscles of your jaw work with those in your neck and head, the effects can go beyond your mouth, including headaches, ringing in the ears, neck pain, even numbness or tingling in your fingers.

A neuromuscular dentist is trained in identifying and treating TMJ Dysfunction and can provide relief for those symptoms your doctor may not be able to treat —may not even believe.

Head and neck pain and discomfort associated with TMD/TMJ

Most people don’t think to mention the pain in their facial muscles or jaw joints to their dentists. Yet such pain is a common symptom of TMD (Temporomandibular Dysfuntion) or otherwise known as TMJ.  This condition causes pain on both sides of the forehead and sometimes in the neck as well. Other symptoms of TMD may include jaw pain, biting or chewing difficulty or discomfort, reduced ability to open or close the mouth and popping/clicking of the jaw joints during opening and closing.

TMD/TMJ Symptom Self-Quiz

Following are a few of the more common symptoms that may possibly be associated with your TMD. If you have one or more of them, you should visit a dentist with special neuromuscular training in the field of TMD.

Sensitive teeth- no dental problems found Bony deposits (Tori) or bone loss
Pain in the muscles that control jaw function Jaw pain or tenderness of the jaw
Pain in the face or neck Biting or chewing difficulty or discomfort
Teeth Grinding or notching of teeth at gumline Pain in and around the ear without infection
TMJ pain TMJ noise during opening or closing of the jaw
Limited opening or locking of the jaw A change in the way the upper and lower teeth fit together

The Benefits of Neuromuscular Dentistry for All Procedures

Neuromuscular dentistry is more than just treating TMJ, it’s an entirely different way of looking at dentistry that can improve the appearance, comfort, and durability of your dental restorations.

For example, if you crack a tooth, your traditional dentist may want to just put a dental crown on it, but a neuromuscular dentist will ask “why did that tooth crack?” and identify the bite imbalance that will crack the dental crown the way it did the tooth.

This is especially important when using porcelain veneers to restore worn, chipped, or cracked front teeth. Under normal conditions, porcelain veneers are highly durable and will last for decades, but a bad bite will destroy them.

A neuromuscular dentist will also look at the impact a dental restoration may have on your current bite, and won’t give you a crown or filling that will cause you long-term discomfort or poor fit.


Wichita’s Neuromuscular Dentists

Drs. Erickson and Gill received post-graduate focused training in neuromuscular dentistry from The Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies, the premier neuromuscular dental institute in the world.

If you live in Wichita or South Central Kansas and you’re searching for a neuromuscular dentist to ensure your smile is as healthy, comfortable, and durable as it is attractive, we are the only neuromuscular dentists with Fellowship status outside of the Kansas City area.  Contact Symmetris Dental – Drs. Erickson and Gill or request an appointment online.


One of the things that neuromuscular dentists pride themselves on is the enormous amount of data and research that they have accumulated over the years proving the efficacy of neuromuscular non-surgical therapies in the resolution of TMD and TMD associated ailments. Read our Research Page to find out more.