Updated: Jan 4, 2022
Dr. Maryam Motlagh
Dr. Maryam Motlagh is a general and cosmetic dentist who specializes in TMJ treatments at her Portland, OR based private practice, Aesthetic Smiles. After decades of treating patients with TMJ and related dental jaw alignment issues, Dr. Motlagh's research lead to Myoaligner® treatment protocols. Based on principles of physiologic & neuromuscular treatment modalities and a comprehensive approach to care, Myoaligner® focuses on relaxing the fatigued jaw and neck muscles using FDA cleared ULF- TENS on the masticatory muscles while maintaining that optimal physiology during function and chewing. Today, I got the chance to sit down with Dr. Maryam Motlagh and talk to her about her research and experience.
Q: Tell me about your education, where did you study?
A: I have dedicated my professional life to helping patients improve their smiles and overall health with natural, non-surgical, & bio-remodeling techniques. I sought extensive training in post-doctorate institutes including Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry & Las Vegas Institute (LVI) to help patients alleviate the pain associated with poor bite alignment commonly known as TMJ.
As a Fellow of International College of Craniomandibular Orthopedics, my research has led to Myoaligner®, a company that helps other dentists realign the jaw non-surgically, alleviate TMJ related pain and positively impact patients' lives on a much larger scale.
Q: What do you consider to be your specialties?
A: I specialize in cosmetic and restorative dentistry which has led to my nationally recognized Smile Makeovers. The comprehensive approach is the driving force behind everything I do. I believe that beyond providing my patients with a beautiful smile I can also offer treatments that lead to better jaw alignment & improved facial profile. I am passionate about bringing awareness of TMJ/TMD treatments to patients and providers around the world.
Q: Could you explain what a holistic approach is? Why do you feel it is the best way treat patients?
A: The holistic approach treats the whole body when addressing a specific symptom. For example, I have a patient who suffers from TMJ. She experiences intense headaches and jaw clicking when she eats & talks. Instead of suggesting she take pain relief medications, I will determine the root cause of her pain. In this case, her pain is caused by the misalignment of her jaw. I can correct her jaw position and that will relieve her from the immediate symptoms she experiences as well as address other issues such as trouble breathing & sleeping, and enhance her facial profile.
The holistic approach can be utilized in many ways, but I have found it very beneficial in treating TMJ patients. People who suffer from common TMJ symptoms may not even know they have TMJ, which is why I believe education and awareness is critical for both patients and providers.
Q: Each year, more than 3 million people report symptoms of TMJ/TMD. Can you explain what TMJ/TMD is?
A: TMJ stands for Temporomandibular Joint, so technically everybody has TMJ. People associate symptoms like jaw popping, muscle spasms in their face or pain when eating to be linked with TMJ. Actually the correct term is TMD or Temporomandibular Disorder. Usually TMD is caused by misalignment of the upper and lower jaw. It has to do with the orthopedics of the head and neck and is very common is modern society.
Q: Do you have a solution?
A: Yes. In my opinion the best solution is a comprehensive multidisciplinary approach because TMD can have different sources. Some people have TMD caused by a bad bite, others cannot breath or swallow correctly which causes mal-occlusion. To have a good orthopedic balance, the bones, muscles and teeth all need to work together in harmony. After years of treating patients suffering from TMD, I have put a multidiciplinary protocol together based on the principles of physiologic or Neuromuscular treatment modalities.
Q: Tell me more about Myoaligner®.
A: After learning and practicing a wide range of treatment approaches to TMD, I was looking for a non-invasive solution that could offer patients a balanced bite. After successfully, using Neuromuscular Anatomical Orthotics for over 20 years in my practice, I decided to improve on what I had learned which lead to development of Myoaligner® treatment protocols. Based on nearly 5 decades of existing science and research on physiologic dentistry and the favorable treatment outcome with the Anatomical Neuromuscular Orthotics, I decided to join forces with a group of dedicated professionals to Develop Myoaligner®. We have a portal for providers to get training and we impediment the latest dental manufacturing techniques like 3D Design and 3D fabrication to develop custom dental appliances with the accuracy of nearly 5 microns. I am humbled by the fact that the patent pending Segmented Removable Orthotic Design that I introduced to the field has revolutionized our treatment approach and has been praised by many leaders and educators in the field.
Q: What is your mission with Myoaligner®?
A: Our mission is to make this much needed treatment more affordable and accessible to patients, by educating more general dentists globally. I compare Myoaligner® to Invisalign® in the sense that by applying the latest advancements in dental 3D technology, Invisalign® made orthodontic treatment affordable and available in the majority of dental offices around the world. Our mission to do the same for TMJ treatment by helping general dentists implement Myoaligner® treatment protocols in their practice making treatment easy, effective and affordable to their patients.
Q: Can you give an example of how Myoaligner® products should be integrated into their overall dental care?
A:I use Myoaligner® appliances for what we call Phase I Orthotic treatments. So if someone has jaw discomfort and pain that might be associated with a bad bite, wearing a bite appliance makes it a non-invasive way for them to test drive the new bite and jaw position. Myoaligner® unique treatment protocols allow patients to chew and function with a new purposed bite before they go into procedures like orthodontics, restorative treatments or surgery to get there.
Similar to an orthotic in a shoe; you can have muscle spasms and back pain but if you place an orthotic in your shoe it will correct your alignment. Myoaligner® protocols allows us to achieve that in the mouth. Once we correct the alignment then we have a better plan before we start orthodontic or restorative treatment.
Q: How have you seen this appliance impact your patient's lives? Why should someone choose Myoaligner® over other dental appliances on the market?
A: It definitely has impacted my patient's lives. I have been using similar appliances for the past twenty years but never thought they were fully effective. They were made with clear acrylic and their were unsightly and bulky in the mouth. Myoaligner® appliances are tooth colored, invisible in the mouth and easy to chew with. I have seen a lot more compliance from patients which will effect the end results. Myoaligner® unique segmented appliances are smaller and more aesthetic than the clear appliances that cover the entire dental arch. Since they are aesthetic and functional, people can wear them all the time. So, just as a cast is effective for a broken leg, Myoaligner® lets us support the jaw in the correct position 24/7 which allows us to see much faster bio remodeling.
Q: What is your vision for Myoaligner® moving forward?
A: I hope to make TMD treatment more predictable and affordable for the general public. I know that so many people are affected by TMD worldwide and this is an area in my profession that needs more awareness. Many dentists graduate from dental school knowing nothing about TMD when 25% of the patients in their own practice suffer from it.
Similar to what Invisalign® did for dentistry- making dental appliances more affordable, providing non-invasive treatments for patients and training general practitioners to be able to offer this treatment- I hope Myoaligner® can do the same. There is a benefit to having orthodontists and general dentists trained on Myoaligner® protocols so we can provide our product to as many people as possible all over the world.
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And of course, visit aesmiles.com to stay up to date on everything Dr. Maryam Motlagh is doing in Portland, OR.