A lot of aches and pains in the shoulders, neck and jaw can be traced to teeth and joint problems. Some new digital technology is helping specialists in neuro-muscular dentistry find out what's going on.
Quyen Tran is being wired up so sensors can listen digitally for abnormal sounds in her jaw, track jaw movement, and measure the strength of various muscles. She's been having headaches and other problems. "It seems like my mouth is working harder than before and that what I've been noticing later. And also I get tenseness on the back of my neck," Quyen Tran, patient
Dr. Michael Chung practices Neuromuscular Dentistry, and uses a lot of technology to take the guesswork out of the diagnosis. Electro Sonography is a way to analyze vibrations in the joints.
"When I have the patient open and close, it will pick up any kind of noises, vibrations, any things we normally can't hear, it will pick these up and basically almost like a seismograph type of thing." says Dr. Michael Chung, with Softouch Dental. Smooth lines means proper functioning. Popping and clicking joints create a big response on the screen.
Another test, called Surface Electromyography, is a lot like an EKG but focuses on the major muscles that control the posturing, opening and closing of the mouth. The test on the muscles flash up on the big screen.
Another diagnostic tool is the Tomogram machine, which is almost like a mini-MRI. The patient positioned using light beams, then the machine rotates around the patient's head. It creates digital slices to help determine the health of the joint.
Dr. Chung says his tests often show just a simple appliance can correct problems, but it is complicated technology that helps make it easier to sort everything out, with less guesswork.
"I'm not sitting there subjectively thinking, I think it might be this muscle that's causing you the problem. Or this may be causing you the problem. I know for a fact which muscle it is, left side right side the exact number to the degree that it is bothering that patient." said Dr. Chung.