Bite Balancing and TMJ
A balanced bite is very important, because if it is off, it usually results in pain and discomfort.
Bite imbalances are caused by:
- Improperly adjusted or integrated dental work
- Missing teeth
- Crooked teeth or malocclussions
- Grinding or clenching your teeth – It is more common than you think, because most of the time it is at night when you don’t know you are doing it
Not only can you have tooth pain but an imbalanced bite can result in jaw pain. Most dentists try to help with grinding, clenching and jaw pain by making a splint or night guard. This is a simple appliance that is meant to relieve stress on the teeth themselves and reposition the jaw joint to a less stressful position. While this approach is often helpful, it is a crutch and other treatment will most likely be necessary. Jaw pain is usually multifaceted, however treatment is usually one dimensional leading to only partial relief of symptoms.
The idea of the splint is a simple one. Keep the teeth from doing further damage to themselves and keep the condyles of the jaw from compressing onto delicate tissue and nerves in front of the ear. Splints usually help initially, but a plateau is reached beyond which a splint does not help. This is because the associated cranial distortions and dysfunction of the joint disc has not been addressed.
These patients are labeled “non-compliant” for not wearing their splints, but really it is not their fault. Temporomandibular joint problems can have any of the following causes:
- crowded teeth
- worn or missing teeth
- periodontal or gum problems/disease
- clenching and grinding
Cosmetic dentists fix clenching and grinding by placing crowns and veneers. The human body is very adaptive and is constantly compensating for a myriad of imbalances, however unless the underlying issues are addressed more dentistry is usually not the answer, Dr O has seen a lot of Cosmetic dental work crack, chip and eventually fail as did the natural teeth before them because, the bite was not corrected effectively. Often, the bite needs to be balanced and teeth repositioned to a less stressful position first through orthodontics or appliance therapy. The ALF appliance is great for this.