Tip of the Month
Could you benefit from the services of a Neuromuscular dentist?
Do you suffer from frequent headaches?
Neck and shoulder pain?
Ringing or feeling of fullness in your ears or vertigo?
Locking, popping or clicking in your jaw joints?
How can this be related to your teeth and can your dentist help?
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD) is a condition in which your bite becomes misaligned causing serious and often painful health problems. When the jaw is misaligned, both the hard (bones) and soft (muscles) tissues are affected and many problems can result, such as headaches, jaw pain, neck and shoulder pain, tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, and clicking or popping or grinding sounds in the jaw joint. In a number of cases, these symptoms are the result of TMD, also referred to as TMJ.
What Causes TMD?
In most cases TMD is associated with a condition called malocclusion. Malocclusion (or a "bad bite") means that your upper and lower teeth do not close together in the correct way. A bad bite can occur as a result of genetics, trauma to the TMJ, missing teeth and the resultant shifting, improperly fitting dental fillings or crowns, airway issues, allergies as a child and sometimes past orthodontics. When teeth are misaligned they cannot provide the support the muscles in the face need for chewing and swallowing. These muscles are then forced into a strained position, resulting in pain throughout the face, arms, shoulders and neck. Although a person may have beautiful teeth or had orthodontics in the past to align the teeth for aesthetic reasons, the muscles and joints may not be comfortable or in a proper physiologic position. We now know that most of the deep grooves on the sides of teeth at the gum line aren't from toothbrushing. These notches, called "abfractions", are caused by microfractures in the teeth from biting forces, which are also signs of TMD.
Neuromuscular Dentistry serves to correct the bite and realign the jaw to an optimal physiological rested position.
Neuromuscular dentists understand the complex relationship between the jaw joint and all the surrounding hard and soft tissues. The solution to relieve jaw pain and its various symptoms is to realign the jaw and the jaw joint into a balanced and harmonious relationship. A neuromuscular dentist uses a variety of computerized instruments to record the bite and aid the dentist in identifying the specific misalignment causing the pain. Neuromuscular dentistry is used to find a balance between where we want the teeth to be and where the joints and muscles are most comfortable. To accomplish this, orthotics are used. An orthotic is a clear acrylic custom-made device designed to help achieve the proper bite alignment. Similar to an orthotic for the shoe, a tooth orthotic balances the mouth aligning the teeth and jaws into their optimal position. There are different goals of dental orthotics, including:
- protecting the teeth from grinding and clenching
- helping reposition the jaw joint to its proper location
- removing torque and allowing the muscles to fully relax
- realigning the patient's bite to its optimal position
Orthotics are generally worn full time for a period of 3 months, during which time your dentist will adjust the orthotic to "fine tune" the bite and find the ideal position. Once the bite is quantifiably stable you and your dentist can determine what type of dental care is needed to maintain this stable bite. The treatment can consist of any one or a combination of:
- 1) Restorative treatment using crowns, veneers, onlays and fillings
- 2) Orthodontics (braces)
- 3) Coronoplasty (precision reshaping of the teeth)
- 4) Long term orthotic wear
Once the bite is realigned, pain that resulted from the imbalance is reduced or often disappears completely. Could your bite be causing you pain?
Contact us today in Victoria (Vancouver Island) B.C. to learn more about how updating your older dentistry with today's techniques, materials, and technology can help you improve your dental health and restore your youthful, beautiful smile!