Posts Tagged ‘clenching teeth’

Occlusal Correction: Occlusal Splint Therapy

This type of therapy for occlusal correction is temporary, but does a lot of good things over a period of time to protect your bite and its bad effects on your whole chewing system — even your whole head, down to your shoulders.

I’ve mentioned the MAGO way back when, and how I use it to treat TMJ cases. This is just about identical. It is basically a hard plastic mouthguard designed to fit your mouth in such a way that provides a stable bite and prevents further clenching and/or grinding of your teeth. The splint also relieves jaw and muscle pain caused by malocclusion problems. The kind of treatment you’ll need after using an occlusal splint will determine how long you wear it, and may even change the course of negative effects again caused by your malocclusion.

Dr. Sperbeck, West Los Angeles


Occlusal Analysis

“Occlusal” is basically a fancy, dental-scientific word for “bite.” I have mentioned occlusal (bite) analysis in an earlier post, but if you don’t remember it, I shall reiterate:

Occlusal analysis takes a look at your bite, your entire chewing system, comprehensively observing, recording, and adjusting small areas where your bite can reach its full effective, comfortable, and long-lasting potential. This approach — analyzing the whole mouth, jaw, teeth, and their movements — is far superior to adjusting each individual tooth. Adjusting the individual teeth can lead to painful jaw malfunctions and TMJ disorders over time because of prolonged crooked movement (slight though it may be) and repetitive clenching or grinding.

Does your dentist give occlusal analyses? Should you go in for one?

Dr. Sperbeck, West Los Angeles

Bioesthetically Preserving A Healthy Bite

A current patient of mine has severely worn-down teeth & an overbite, caused by several years’ worth of clenching & grinding. She has two choices for restorations: several veneers for the visible-when-smiling teeth in the front, or full crown restorations for just about the entire mouth.

Determining which course to take will be a $40,000 difference in cost, beginning from an already high price. See the importance of preserving an already-healthy bite or taking care to make minor improvements early on in life? Bioesthetic methods are low-maintenance, greatly cost-effective, and save a lot of headaches (literally). It’s better to have to wear a mouth guard every night than have to deal with the financial and physical pains later.

For patients whose bite needs slight adjustment to avoid the scenario described above, I design a MAGO — a maxillary anterior guided orthotic, for those of you who might understand and/or might be interested in this kind of terminology (not!) — or “mouth guard” for patients early on so that their bite might be protected. The MAGO will simultaneously protect their teeth from clenching/grinding at night (when we have the least control over our bruxing habits) and develop a healthy jaw alignment over time if worn consistently.

Dr. Sperbeck, West Los Angeles

One Final Note on Amalgam Removal

(Continued from the previous post:)

Be careful when you have your amalgam filling(s) removed; for several hours the numbness in your face will hinder good judgment on whether your bite feels normal again (when your teeth fit together as you clench down, like normal chewing).

When Dr. Sperbeck refills your teeth, a tiny bit of extra filling will stick out above the tooth, and you’ll be able to feel it. He will sand it down to match the rest of your natural tooth’s shape, and check your bite on a piece of film to get rid of any good-bite-blockage. I thought I was good to go, but as “Mrs. Marshmallow Face”, I should have been more careful in determining the status of my bite! Ever so subtly, I can feel just something there that makes my bite go just a bit crooked and it’s not how I remember it. My jaw muscles have also been feeling slightly more tired. Then occasionally I will find myself subconsciously clenching — almost grinding, like my jaw wants to go back to the old way of chewing but can’t find a way. The funny thing is, is that it hardly bothers me at all, but in reality this must be fixed quickly. Even minor adjustments such as this grow into bigger problems. I read and hear about TMJ a lot now, and I’m realizing that this is a way it can start, and I’m thankful I’ve recognized it early! I am going back to the office in a few days to shave off some more of the fillings so my normal bite will return.

If this has ever been your case (maybe you had your fillings removed a long time ago, and you remember not feeling quite normal, but you ignored it and it became the new “normal”), do not wait to have that fixed or at least examined by a dentist! Straying from the natural way your teeth should fit together is terrible for your jaw in the long run. TMJ disorders develop from those “insignificant” bothers, and it’s so important to communicate with your dentist of ANYTHING that wasn’t the way it was before. Granted, it may not always be a negative result, but it is still important to speak up, because the dentist knows a whole lot more about what’s right/wrong in our mouths.

Bioesthetics and TMJ

If you read any of my previous posts concerning TMJ, I’m sure you’ve made┬ásome sort of┬áconnection between that and bioesthetic dentistry. There is, in fact, a grand relationship between the two!

TMJ stands for “temporo-mandibular joint,” (or, more plainly, your jaw joint). “TMJ” itself, or even “TMD” (temporo-mandibular disorder), both refer to problems with the jaw joint that affect your chewing system, surrounding facial muscles, and even your whole head or neck. It is important, if you seem to be experiencing unexplained headaches, neck pain, jaw pain, clicking or popping sounds when chewing, crooked jaw movements, grinding or clenching teeth, or limited opening of your mouth, to see a dentist immediately, as TMJ in the long run will become much worse if it isn’t treated.

Bioesthetics comes in handy here. Bioesthetic dentistry restores the original, genetic bite that functions perfectly and is most comfortable and efficient. That lists everything that TMJ is not! Bioesthetics is absolutely perfect for treating TMJ, as it targets correcting the jaw muscles and alignment, where the root problem is. Not the chipped teeth (yet), or the mysterious grinding on one side of your mouth (yet), but the deep-down muscles that control every single movement your mouth makes. It’s wonderful! And everyone who undergoes treatment is enamored with the fact that they can stop taking pain medications, wearing mouthpieces at night, or crashing hard underneath an unexplained migraine.

Dr. Sperbeck, West Los Angeles