Different types of dentistry have different focuses. A general dentist is concerned with your overall oral health. A general dentist will study, diagnose, treat, and offer prevention solutions for diseases and conditions in your mouth. A cosmetic dentist concentrates on how your teeth and gums look and provide treatments to resolve things like discolored teeth, crooked teeth, misshapen teeth, missing teeth, and decaying teeth. A neuromuscular dentist looks at your mouth as an interconnected system. Taking into consideration how your teeth, muscles, and joints work together to form a functional and painless bite. A neuromuscular dentist can treat problems that arise when your occlusion (bite) isn’t aligned, like TMJ disorder

Looking at these three types of dentistry, it’s easy to see how having one experienced dentist in all three is beneficial. Choose a dentist who can diagnose, treat, offer preventative solutions, make your teeth beautiful, and treat malocclusion (misaligned bite). What if you don’t have any TMJ issues, but you want cosmetic dentistry? Can you forgo neuromuscular dentistry? The simple answer is no. Here’s why.

mature woman with red sweater on, shows off her amazing smileImproving Smiles Without Causing Damage

The top reason to choose a neuromuscular dentist for cosmetic dentistry is that a neuromuscular dentist looks at your teeth as part of a whole. Your teeth, muscles in your head, jaw, and neck, and joints work together to form a working mouth. Without all of these components, you wouldn’t be able to talk, chew, yawn, smile, or even frown. When something is out of place or strained, like a jaw joint, you’ll experience pain from your shoulders up. Headaches, jaw pain, ear pain, and tooth sensitivity can result from malocclusion. What does this have to do with cosmetic dentistry? The answer is that poorly performed cosmetic dentistry can cause your bite to become off-kilter, straining your muscles and causing the resulting painful symptoms. 

Suppose your cosmetic dentist just treats one tooth at a time or solely focuses on how your teeth and gums look. In that case, they could inadvertently place too large of a filling, a poorly shaped restoration (often called a crown), or perform orthodontic work to correct crooked teeth that ultimately results in misalignment. With a neuromuscular dentist, you’ll get 360-degree dental care. All restorations and fillings are placed correctly so that you won’t experience jaw misalignment. All orthodontic work is done with the end goal of straight teeth and a correct bite that won’t cause any pain down the road. Choose a dentist who can give you your dream smile without causing bite issues.

Correcting the Main Cause, Not Just the Symptoms

With a dentist that focuses on your whole mouth system instead of just its individual parts, you’ll find that you’ll need less dental work in the end. When your bite is misaligned, you’ll experience symptoms like worn teeth. Worn teeth may look like a grinding problem—medically called bruxism—which is likely the case. However, why are you grinding your teeth? It’s possible for bruxism and TMJ to be unrelated or even happen simultaneously without one causing the other. Still, there is also the genuine possibility that you are grinding your teeth because of your TMJ. If TMJ is hiding behind ground teeth, replacing the damaged teeth with crowns won’t do the trick, nor will a tooth-protective mouthguard. Dental restorations aren’t foolproof, and you still have to take care of them the way you do your natural teeth. That means that grinding your teeth will wear down your permanent crown the same way grinding your teeth wore down your natural teeth. Without a neuromuscular dentist there to determine the main problem, you could go through crown after crown without an end in sight. Sometimes after placing a new crown, a dentist will offer a mouthguard to solve your teeth grinding problem. This can be effective as long as the guard is appropriately fitted. An incorrectly fitted guard could cause your teeth to shift and ultimately TMJ disorder. Or, if you already have TMJ, a mouthguard fitted to your malocclusion isn’t going to do your other symptoms any favors. 

The same things can be said for dentures, porcelain veneers, and dental bridges. If you don’t find the root cause of your grinding, these restorations will wear down just like a crown would and just as your natural teeth did. Grinding can wear down fillings, too, putting you back in the same position that you were when you began your dental work, with teeth that are painful, sensitive, short, and broken. Choose a dentist who can give you a beautiful smile while correcting the leading cause of your tooth damage. 

Curing Seemingly Unrelated Pain

When you visit a cosmetic dentist, you don’t expect to get your migraines, headaches, facial pain, or ear pain cured. You expect to leave with a smile you’re proud to show off. Except, you aren’t going to want to show it off when you still have pain that your doctors can’t figure out or have misdiagnosed. 

Temporomandibular joint disorder, often called TMJ and TMD is a misaligned bite. Sometimes this is due to health care measures such as intubation, trauma from an accident, bad oral habits such as nail-biting or pencil chewing, congenital issues, or bad dentistry. In all cases, we can treat TMJ with coronoplasty (minor changes to the shape of your teeth), neuromuscular orthotics (a “bite splint”), or a full mouth reconstruction (the use of dental crowns and dental veneers to change the bite). However, living with TMJ can cause seemingly unrelated symptoms. Migraines, headaches, ear pain, ear ringing, vertigo, neck pain, and tingling in the fingertips are common. Ear ringing or tingling fingers might be a mild annoyance, but other symptoms like migraines, vertigo, and neck pain can be debilitating. Choose a dentist who has the knowledge and skill to give you a beautiful smile and treat TMJ and its symptoms.

Added Bonus: Identify Poorly Performed Old Cosmetic Dentistry

As a bonus, a cosmetic dentist who is also a neuromuscular dentist can identify old cosmetic dentistry that might be causing other problems. If you’ve had cosmetic dentistry in the past and are now experiencing symptoms of malocclusion like chronic headaches, it’s worth it to get the opinion of a cosmetic dentist who is also a neuromuscular dentist. Drs. Ken and Marnie Collins of Spokane, WA, are cosmetic dentists who specialize in neuromuscular dentistry. You don’t have to choose between beauty and comfort. You can have the smile of your dreams and be pain-free at Collins Dentistry and Aesthetics. Our dentists can identify if your old cosmetic dentistry is causing your pain and correct it with beautiful new cosmetic dentistry that won’t cause additional problems.

Looking for Cosmetic or Neuromuscular Dentistry? Choose Both

In Spokane, WA, don’t choose cosmetics or neuromuscular. Choose both. Call (509) 532-1111 or schedule an appointment online at Collins Dentistry and Aesthetics, where the beauty, functionality, and health of your smile are of utmost priority.