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TENS for TMJ Treatment

TMJ Treatment

Are you planning expensive dental treatment, maybe veneers or implants followed by dentures? How can you be sure that your results will remain satisfactory for years to come? Analyzing your bite and TMJ in advance is one way to make sure you are confident in the results years following treatment.

Modern dentistry offers advanced solutions such as TENS – an effective joint diagnostic technique. What is TENS? How does it work? What problems can we solve using TENS?

What is TENS in dental medicine?

TENS stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation.

TENS is a safe method of therapy used to quickly eliminate spasms of the masticatory, mimic, shoulder, and cervical muscles. This form of therapy involves electrostimulation of muscle fibers with a low frequency microcurrent.

How does it work?

TENS unit consists of the following parts:

  • Electric pulse generator (battery pack)

  • Lead wire

  • Electrodes (these look like sticky pads similar to those used for EKG, placed on the patient’s face)

TENS therapy does not require any preparation, and the procedure takes no more than one hour.

Electrical Nerve Stimulation

A complete course of treatment usually consists of two to four sessions. The patient sits in a chair while the doctor performs the following procedures:

  • Disinfecting the skin areas and applying electrodes (in pairs) to the face, neck, and shoulders.

  • Adjusting the frequency/amplitude of the electrical impulses according to the symptomatology. Depending on the selected mode, the device outputs synchronous electrical pulses at a frequency of 2.0 Hz or lower.

  • Controlling the course of the procedure/the patient’s condition. You may feel a slight pulsation/tingling during the procedure.

TENS sensors
How does TENS affect muscle fibers?

The combination of electrical impulses gently stimulates the muscle fibers. The principle is similar to that of a pump. The muscles begin to contract once every 2-4 seconds. This causes the outflow of venous blood in the capillaries, which is actively saturated with oxygen. The metabolism in the fibers is normalized, breakdown products are eliminated, and useful components are supplied to the muscles.

Muscles are completely relaxed within 10-20 minutes from the start of the procedure. They become more elastic and regain their physiological length. Spasms and pain disappear, and muscle memory is reset. The trapped TMJ muscles return to their anatomically correct position.

What is TENS unit used for?

Symptoms Benefit of TENS
Pain, clicking when opening the mouth TENS therapy restores the natural contraction of the local muscles, making them relax and return to their original length. The lower jaw begins to move freely. The feeling of heaviness, muscle tension, and pain disappear.
Postural disorders (as a result of temporomandibular joint dysfunction) TENS therapy relieves excessive strain on the temporomandibular joint by restoring its anatomically correct working pathways in all planes. It restores the functionality and position of the cervical-shoulder spine.
Increased tooth enamel abrasion, bite anomalies TENS therapy relieves masticatory muscles and dental arches of excessive strain and helps to achieve proper occlusion.
Migraines, cervical pains Muscle contraction actively enriches the blood with oxygen, restoring circulation to the tissues and relieving neck pain and headaches.
Complicated prosthetics for TMJ dysfunction Neurostimulation and muscle relaxation restore normal neuromuscular pathways, making it possible to eliminate temporomandibular joint dysfunction, determine the correct bite and the relationship of the jaws, and plan prosthetics and bite pathology therapy.
Premature signs of aging Deep mimic wrinkles in the oral area disappear with the normalization of the lower jaw position. Chin contours and facial oval become clear.

Are there contraindications with TENS therapy?

Tens therapy might result in:

  • Increased patient anxiety

    TENS therapy requires cooperation with the patient and close concentration.

  • Cardiac pacemaker

    Electrical stimulation may interfere with the operation of the device.

  • Cerebrovascular problems (aneurysm, stroke, transient ischemia)

    Stimulating peripheral blood flow may cause the patient to die.

  • Epilepsy

    The therapy is capable of causing a seizure.

  • Pregnancy

    The use of the TENS device is not approved by the FDA.

  • Acute pain, pain of unknown origin

    The therapy may make diagnosis and treatment difficult.


TENS therapy cannot replace local anesthesia, but it can be used to relieve dental pain during various dental procedures (it has a strong analgesic effect).

Several techniques can be used at home, including:

  • Special exercises for opening the jaw, stretching the joint
  • Trigger point massage
  • Night mouth guards for bruxism
  • Changing your diet
  • Avoiding stressful situations

However, before doing anything at home, it is worth consulting a specialist. The optimal therapy and treatment plan can only be established after careful diagnosis.

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