How our teeth fit together and how we chew is our “occlusion” or our “bite”. When your bite is off, you can experience discomfort while talking and chewing, pain through your jaw joints, headaches, and even neck and shoulder pain. Your comprehensive exam includes an evaluation of your teeth, your jaw muscles, and jaw joints. A series of questions will also help us diagnose bite problems.
Evaluating & Diagnosing Your Bite
We can evaluate the severity of your bite problems by determining the amount of:
Muscle and joint pain
Diagnosis of your bite problems will be based on your difficulty chewing certain foods, the appearance of worn teeth, the position of your teeth over time and/or pain in your jaw joints. With the gathered information we will be able to assess your risk and prognosis with treatment options.
Biting surfaces of teeth will wear slightly over time with normal chewing patterns. Grinding your teeth with greater than normal force describes Bruxism and will cause excessive tooth wear. Bruxism can destroy healthy teeth and lead to sensitivity and eventually tooth loss.
Infection or gum disease (bone loss) will cause teeth to become loose in patients with normal chewing patterns. Excessive biting forces and clenching will loosen teeth that have healthy bone. Also, teeth that do not bite together properly may become loose even with normal chewing. Discomfort and tooth loss may result from any of these conditions.
Muscle & Joint Pain (TMD - Temporomandibular Disorder)
TMD is a term that describes problems in the chewing and jaw muscles and joints or both. It can cause extreme facial pain that is intermittent or constant depending on the individual.
Appliance Therapy (night guard) designed to fit the upper or lower teeth and protect the biting surfaces of your teeth and reduce excessive forces on the jaw muscles and joints.
Functional Analysis is a multi-step protocol that provides us with diagnostic information to analyze your bite. This procedure may include multiple steps; the first being taking impressions to construct a deprogramming appliance. This appliance will be used to help us determine the best treatment options for you.