Personal experience drew dentist to neuromuscular dentistry

Oct. 29, 2012
Dr. Ivan Valcarenghi suffered from earaches and TMJ

Dr. Ivan Valcarenghi's own suffering has led to the comfort of hundreds of his patients. When his own earaches and TMJ were not becoming better in traditional ways, it led him to study the symptoms' relationship to the jaw.

While there are many factors involved in migraine headaches, including environmental and hormonal, the source of most remain a mystery. Multiple visits to the neurologist, mystery diagnoses, and years of pain medications have not explained 95% of the headaches that are estimated to affect 25 million Americans and cost the country over $1 billion in lost productivity.

"Dentistry might be able to help," Dr. Ivan, a cosmetic dentist who practices in the Chicago area, said. "As my cosmetic practice grew, it became apparent that 'form follows function' in dentistry as well as art, and you cannot restore a smile to beauty without a firm foundation in function. So many of today’s best cosmetic dentists have similar training and are experts in occlusion and the stomatognathic articular system. When you understand this, you understand how the head is connected to the body. Every bodily function, every organ, every bodily system cannot exist alone."

This led to Dr. Ivan's area of focus in neuromuscular dentistry for over 15 years. While talking to him it becomes apparent that he thrives on helping his patients leave their pain behind. It's simply a bonus that his own earaches and TMJ are history as well.

Dr. Ivan received his training from the Las Vegas Institute, and since then word of his area of focus has spread. "I believe dentistry has had a narrow focus through the years, and that more cooperation between the medical community and the dental community will greatly benefit our patients," he said.

"We realized that muscles, particularly the muscles of mastication, were important in function and health," explained Dr. Ivan. "Neuromuscular dentistry is one name given to the study of how jaw function affects our overall health and with some study, we discovered a great percentage of patients with sore jaw muscles concurrently had headaches. The interrelationship was further examined and found to be true."

While many people have benefitted from Dr. Ivan's treatment, he likes to talk about Margharita, who's damaged teeth made her look older than her 28 years.

"Margharita's teeth were worn in the front and she suffered from migraines," he explained. "She came to me for veneers, but this was one of the very obvious cases where form follows function. I could have fit her for veneers, but she would have been back in no time with destroyed veneers and the same symptoms.

"We placed her on some of our diagnostic equipment and found that her teeth and jaws were functioning in the wrong plane and that her head and jaw muscles were spiking on our EMG’s, demonstrating improper function," he continued. "We did a thorough examination and evaluation and determined her headaches were probably caused by her dentomandibular position that caused her neuromuscular 'issues,' including migraines After a period of time in an orthosis, it was very clear she was demonstrably better. The pain was seriously reduced, with fewer headaches and not one migraine in five months."

Dr. Ivan said the treatment is non-invasive, inexpensive, and has a great response rate. "Who doesn't want that?" he exclaimed.

For information, visit Dr. Ivan Valcarenghi's website at