I’m torn between seeing a prosthodontist or a cosmetic dentist to fix what my previous dentist did. I want a functional yet natural looking solution, and don’t want to have to choose between the two. Most importantly, I don’t want to be taken advantage of again.
I had severe jaw pain from teeth grinding and poorly placed crowns, so in desperation I turned to a “neuromuscular dentist.” Instead of fixing my pain, I feel like he made my situation worse. The orthotic he gave me did not work. It moved my lower jaw forward and opened my bite even more. I don’t wear it any more, but because of it, my crowns have been so ground down they are flat. I realize now that neuromuscular dentistry is not an actual specialty. I wish I’d realized it sooner.
Thanks to him, I need restorative work to fix my mouth. Given my history, I’m hesitant to see another dentist. A friend of mine suggested I should see a prosthodontist next, and that they should be able to help with my case. However, I’m not sure who would be better able to determine where my natural bite falls in order to place the crowns. I want to choose carefully, and avoid spending time and money on solutions that won’t work.
Who should I see next – a prosthodontist or cosmetic dentist? If you could give me any advice, I would be very grateful. I don’t know what to do.
Pamela from Monterey County, California
Thank you for your question. “Neuromuscular dentistry” is the study of how the teeth and jaw muscles come together to create a comfortable bite. Legally, this is not a distinctive specialty in dentistry. The same goes for being a TMJ specialist; however, dentists can receive additional training in treating TMJ disorders, they just have to be wary of calling themselves specialists for legal reasons.
Fortunately, appearance and function are not mutually exclusive goals. A dentist with the proper expertise in cosmetic dentistry will combine both esthetics and function to balance your occlusion. The problem is that many dentists are skilled and interested only in the technical side of dentistry, not the esthetic side. This often leads to yet another problem when going to a prosthodontist; these specialist dentists have strong academic credentialing and their extra time in dental school reinforces technical skill and practicality over appearance. Fortunately, there are many dentists who are just as passionate about the appearance of their work as they are about its excellent technical function.
Finding where your natural bite is supposed to be is difficult, but a dentist with training in treating TMJ disorders will be able to do it. Before booking an appointment, check the dentist’s ‘About Me’ page, and look for a dentist who graduated from the Las Vegas Institute; it’s the best place for dentists to go and learn about cosmetic dentistry and how to help patients with TMJ. An experienced cosmetic dentist, such as Dr. Rota, will know what they are doing but also cares how your end result is going to look.
You should also check a dentist’s smile gallery – most cosmetic dentists should have one. If the dentist knows how to create a natural-looking smile for the patients in the photos, they will be able to do the same for you.
Thank you, and good luck with your case.
This blog post is brought to you by the office of Colorado Springs TMJ dentist, Dr. Joseph Rota. Please note that Dr. Rota is licensed as a general dentist. He has received extra training in TMJ, but TMJ is not a specialization recognized by the ADA.