What are Neuromuscular Dentures?
- Economy Dentures are the “made in the same day” type of dentures that you see advertised on TV, newspaper and on the radio. These are very basic dentures. Sometimes I jokingly say “They come in small, medium, and large, and the patient gets the size that fits the closest”. Now please don’t think that I am against economy dentures… they are a great solution for some people who otherwise wouldn’t have any teeth at all. It’s just that some people can’t live with economy dentures because they either don’t fit well enough, or they don’t look good enough. The cost of economy dentures usually runs around $1000.
- Traditional Dentures are the main type of dentures that are made by most general dentists. They will fit better than economy dentures and they will usually look better than economy dentures. There is huge variation in how good they look and how good they fit, and this is usually due to the experience of the dentist who is making them. Generally, the cost of good traditional dentures is around $4000 – $6000.
So that is an explanation of what Neuromuscular Dentures are NOT. So what are the differences between Neuromuscular Dentures and those listed above. It can be distilled down to two main differences. One, the way the impressions are made and two, the position of the lower jaw.
Let me explain. Most economy dentures are made from a single impression of your gums. Traditional dentures will usually be made from primary and secondary impressions of your gums. However, neuromuscular dentures are made from a three-stage impression protocol. Each impression is more accurate than the last. Why is this important? Because, the more accurate your impressions are, the better fit that your denture will have. Furthermore, while the impression material is hardening a neuromuscular impression will capture your muscles and ligaments as they “flex”. A TENS unit is used during your second and third stage of neuromuscular impressions. This TENS unit provides gentle electrical stimulation to your jaw muscles which causes them to twitch while the impression is hardening. These little muscle twitches cause small indentations into the impression material. So when your final denture is made, it has these “built-in” indentations of where your muscles are. This makes your dentures more stable as those muscles flex during eating, drinking, talking and laughing.
Why is jaw position so important? Close your eyes and think about this for a second. You know when someone takes out their denture… how “sunk in” their face looks when they over-close their jaw and bring their chin too close to their nose? Ok, open your eyes now. When your chin gets too close to your nose, the lower third of your face (between the chin and nose) squishes up. This creates wrinkles, thins the lips, and shortens the face. Proper jaw position will reduce the “sunk in” look, reduce wrinkles, increase the fullness of the lips, bring the face into a more youthful proportion and more. Also, a proper jaw position greatly reduces the chances of getting TMJ problems, migraines and tension headaches.
So a Neuromuscular Denture is one that begins with the most accurate impression possible. Next, proper jaw position is established utilizing Neuromuscular Dental protocols which incorporates the use of a computerized bite analysis. This jaw position is the natural position that your jaw would like to live. Finally, a very accurate set of dentures are made so that when you put your dentures into your mouth and bite together, your jaw is in it’s relaxed, natural, unstrained position.
It’s art and science combined.
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