Oro-Pharyngeal Dysphagia - or simply dysphagia - is the difficulty (persistent) in swallowing/passing food and/or liquid from the mouth to the pharynx into the esophagus and finally the stomach; a deglutition disorder (a symptom, by definition, often due to neuro-degenerative/-muscular, drug-induced or localized structural pathologies such as head and neck tumors, lesions and associated surgical and/or radiation injuries) linked to severe consequences on Quality of Life (QoL), including malnutrition, dehydration, and even sudden death. Likewise, Temporo-Mandibular Jaw and Joint disorder(s) - or simply TMD - is a multifactorial etiological condition, regularly encountered in the dental office. Whether due to malocclusion, bruxism, stress and/or trauma, TMD destabilizes the whole cranio-mandibular system structurally and functionally, via affecting mastication, teeth, supporting structures, comfort and aesthetics, and thus, QoL, again. While several treatment regimens do exist for such conditions, some of which have been standardized for use over the years, most continue to lack proper evidence-based literature support. Hence, (1) caution is to be exercised; and (2) the need for alternative therapeutic strategies is amplified, subsequently, the door for innovation is wide open. Indeed, neuromuscular electrical stimulation or "NMES", is perhaps a fine example. Herein, we present the interested oro-dental health care provider with an up-dated revision of this therapeutic modality, its potential benefits, risks and concerns, to best handle the dysphagic patient: an intra-disciplinary approach or strategy bridging contemporary dentistry with speech and language therapy; a rather obscure and un-discovered yet critical allied health profession. A pre-clinical and clinical prospectus on employing inventive NMES-based regimens and devices to manage TMD is also highlighted.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).
- Dental care
- Electric stimulation therapy
- Oropharyngeal dysphagia
- Speech-language pathology
- Temporomandibular joint disorders