Written by Chicagohealers.com practitioner Raymond G. Hatland D.D.S. –
Approximately 80% of all people, have some kind of occlusal (bite) discrepancies. Because of these occlusal problems about 70% of these patients will have destructive, oral habits or compression disorders such as clenching, bruxing or grinding their teeth together.
These oral habits are the main reason patients get headaches and injure the jaw joints known as the temporal-mandibular joint. Oral compression habits are the second most common reason for having pain in the teeth or cold sensitivity.
If these oral habits, which may be unknown to the patient, are stopped or at least greatly reduced and weakened, the damage to their temporal mandibular joints will stop and many times a healing process begins. The patient can save their teeth and dental work from further chipping, fracture, or excessive wear. Also, many. periodontally weakened teeth caused by untreated gum disease can be saved and stabilized.
The great majority of patients have no idea they have a bite problem or clench or brux. Most patients and humans in general have discounted any signs or symptoms because of well-developed coping mechanisms and lack of awareness. Also there are differences in the degree of force and frequency that patients use with compressive habits that affect the awareness or severity of symptoms.
How do I know if I have a bite problem, and/or a compression disorder such as clenching or bruxing?
Signs and symptoms to look for:
1. Hyper sensitive teeth
2. Headaches more than once a week.
3. Enlarged jaw muscles
4. Keeping your teeth together for long periods during the day.
5. Waking up with pain or stiffness in your jaw.
6. Difficulty sleeping and waking up two or three times during the night.
7. Mild to moderate, wear facets on your teeth (this usually takes a dentists to see)
8. Clicking or popping sounds in your TMJ when you open or close.
9. Grating sounds, called crepitus, in your TMJ when you open or close
10. Chronic neck tension or low back pain
11. Unable to hold a Chiropractic adjustment or manipulation
12. History of trauma to the head or jaw from a car accident or fall
The next most common cause is trauma to the head, neck and jaw due to an accident or fall. Auto accidents are major causes of whiplash injuries to the jaw joint as well the head and neck. The resultant bleeding inside the temporal mandibular joint capsule can create adhesions to the articular disk that eventually prevent the coordinated movements of the mandibular condyle and the internal fibrous disc.
This creates clicking and popping sounds in the joint. . Early joint therapy and the use of a proper oral appliance, that is precisely modified to your ideal bite, can prevent this from happening and speed up the healing process.
What can you expect on your first examination appointment?
Everyone gets a thorough examination. Along with an examination of your teeth, soft tissue, gums, x-rays, aesthetics and health history, I will examine and test your bite relationship and TMJ and look for signs or symptoms of destructive oral habits. If this is the main presenting problem, a more comprehensive and detailed health and dental history is needed along with possible TMJ x-rays.
Many patients need an intraoral appliance to get out of pain or to stop nighttime grinding. When the bite on this appliance is perfect, my patients usually experience a rapid shift in their symptoms. Pain and tension in the head, jaw and neck melts away. It’s almost magical. The natural jaw relationship usually shifts to its most desirable, most relaxed, unstressed, comfort promoting and life energy enhancing position. I call this discovering the truth about your bite which was previously hidden by chronic muscle tension.
If this is an incidental finding, further consultations will take place, to determine its importance to you and any treatment that is needed. For example, since I do not place Mercury fillings, large composite fillings are not tolerated well if there is considerable clenching or grinding activity.
I try to make the examination time with me interesting, informative and pleasant and a chance for us to get acquainted. Most patients learn something they never knew before. You’re welcome to make an appointment or get more information from our website.
What is occlusal equilibration?
Occlusal equilibration is the precise and expert reconturing of the occlusal i.e., chewing, surfaces of a tooth or teeth, so that the teeth can function in harmony and ease with each other. OE is one of the most comfort promoting and/or pain relieving procedures I do. It can be one of the most critically important procedures to be done for the ultimate and lasting success of the treatment program and stability of the bite.
There are two basic forms, limited or complete. Limited OE involves one tooth or more in one local quadrant. Complete occlusal equilibration involves the reconturing of any teeth necessary to bring both upper and lower arches into perfect functional and harmonious relationship, and may require multiple appointments to finish.
Just a note if you clench and grind your teeth on a daily basis, you are also performing occlusal equilibration procedures on yourself. However, it is not a professional or intelligent way to equilibrate your teeth, and there are no health benefits or end to it.
Expertly done equilibrations will eliminate or at least greatly reduce the unconscious desire to grind or clench your teeth together, also it will have a stress reducing effect on the muscles of the neck and back.
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