BIOFEEDBACK FOR DENTAL AND MYOFACIAL PAIN

An Auxiliary Service to Your Dental Program

The muscles of the jaw, face and scalp are common "target" areas for the holding of tension, stress, anxiety and fear as we go through our daily activities. Stress induced muscle activity in the form of teeth clenching, bruxing, and grinding is undoubtedly one of the most important causes of dental disease. Damage to our teeth, bite and gums generally occurs over a period of time or can occur with some acute trauma or accident. If the damage is ignored or not treated, it can lead to serious health problems often manifesting as TMD (Temporomandibular Disorder), myalgia, myositis, headaches, tinnitus, and a variety of facial pains.

Most of us are unaware of when we are engaged in clenching or grinding behavior. We automatically do it throughout the day as a way to "bind" tension and anxiety and effort, and we often do it unconsciously at night as we sleep and dream. Generally, it is only when we feel pain, experience headaches, or when our spouse or partner alerts us to the nocturnal noise of bruxing that we become aware of this maladaptive way of holding and processing tension and anxiety. Actually, our teeth need to occlude or touch when we are in the act of swallowing. This is a biological reflex.

Through the use of computerized biofeedback instrumentation, you can quickly learn the skills of deep muscle relaxation and begin to integrate these skills into your daily life. Biofeedback training is painless, fun to learn, and best done with an experienced and certified clinician. You will learn to let go of tension more and more quickly and easily with practice. Typically in four to eight sessions significant skills can be learned to benefit your behavior and condition.

Sophisticated "home training" muscle feedback monitors can be purchased or rented to accelerate the learning process. The myograph can also be adapted for nighttime use as a behavioral intervention technique for the curtailment of teeth grinding during sleep.
Bill Barton, Ph.D., has over twenty-five years of experience with clinical biofeedback and is a past president of the Biofeedback Society of California. He has easily accessible offices in San Francisco and Marin.

A medical diagnosis of a symptom that you may be dealing with such as muscle contraction headaches, polymyalgia, myositis, or otalgia can often insure coverage by your insurance carrier.

 

TMD and Facial Pain

CLINICAL PSYCHOPHYSIOLOGY (Biofeedback)

What Can I Expect?

A course of clinical biofeedback may be seen as adjunctive therapy to your physician's or dentist's treatment. The success of biofeedback is dictated by the patient's motivation, willingness to change behaviors and my skills as a therapist in guiding, training, counseling and teaching you.

With most clients significant gains are realized within four to six sessions. For an individual to truly maintain gains and to integrate behavior changes in his or her life may require longer-term training, possible follow-up or "booster" sessions, and /or some commitment to regular home practice.

In your very first session you will experience the power and precision of physiological monitoring and feedback via state-of-the-art instrumentation. Your ability to relax key muscle groups will be assessed by attaching non-invasive surface sensors that pick-up the electrical activity of your muscles. You will be introduced to an array of other peripheral measures that are important for tapping your general relaxation and quieting skills. Biofeedback training can be quite enjoyable and challenging.

For a patient with significant pain symptoms and elevated baseline tension levels, I usually recommend that the individual rent a home training electromyograph in order to give concrete focus and direction to home practice. These currently rent for $100 per month with supplies. I apply the second and subsequent month's rental toward the purchase price of the instrument (currently $500). Some insurance carriers will help with "durable medical equipment" that is necessary for treatment. Having a home unit offers the prospect of accelerated progress and often can reduce the need for office visits.

Some patients that wish to assess, and/or change their night time clenching or grinding behavior may use the home trainer as an alarm when destructive jaw activity is taking place. You will be awakened by the instrument, will be able to observe the muscles that you were contracting excessively, and then will need to relax the key muscle groups to turn off the instrument and return to sleep.

Where excessive neck and shoulder tension is contributing to the problem, I may suggest floor exercises with a roller, massage or physical therapy.

I do like to see a patient in follow-up if affordable. If I see progress being made, I will generally space the last few appointments apart over two or three weeks to insure gains are maintained. I make every effort to communicate my findings and progress to the referring physician with your permission. My offices are in the Golden Gate Park area of San Francisco next to St. Mary's Hospital.



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