Posts Tagged ‘teeth grinding’

TMJ Disorder

Always be paying attention to signs and signals your body gives you. If you’re hungry, eat something nourishing. If you’re tired, get some rest. If you don’t feel well, try to cut out habits that might be detrimental to your health. Make time to take care of yourself.

This includes your dental health as well. If, for some reason, you are in good health but still experience headaches, neck aches, ear pain, jaw pain, jaw clicking/popping/crookedness, bruxing, stiffness or pain while chewing, or any other unexplained symptom in your jaw/neck area, talk to your dentist. You may have TMJ (short for temporomandibular joint…the joint in each side of your jaw) disorder. If your dentist cannot give you very much information, find a TMJ specialist and call him for an examination. TMJ can grow into a severely restricting, delicate problem and is best treated when in the early stages of development. You won’t have to keep swallowing painkillers if the source of the problem is fixed!

Dr. Sperbeck, West Los Angeles



TMJ disorder, or TMD (both acronyms for the temporo-mandibular joint….the joint in your jaw), is a common ailment that causes a wide range of symptoms from occasional ear pain or jaw clicking/popping, to major aches in the entire head, tooth wear from frequent bruxing (teeth-grinding), migraines, neck pain, and jaw crookedness or tiredness. I specialize in treating TMJ, so if you think TMJ has been a problem for you, contact me (or another TMJ specialist, if location is a problem). It’s important to find one who treats TMJ bioesthetically, aesthetically, and with the healthiest, most natural options available. Your TMJ disorder will grow worse over time if it’s not taken care of. Don’t wait any longer to prevent problems that are bound to happen!

Dr. Sperbeck, West Los Angeles

How Do I Know I Have A TMJ Problem?

Frequently, people are coming in to see me, wondering if they have a TMJ (Temporal Mandibular Joint) problem. Also known as TMD (Temporal Mandibular Dysfunction), TMJ symptoms will include, but are not limited to the following: facial pain, headaches, sore teeth, neck aches, shoulder pain, pain all around the neck, recession of the gums, earaches, ringing in the ears, popping or clicking jaw joints, crunching or grinding noises of jaw joints, soreness or scalloping of the tongue, ridges along the cheek, frequent root canals, broken and chipped teeth, short teeth, difficulty in smiling, more prominent facial wrinkles, loss of lip contour, etc.

This list is mind-boggling! One may have one or multiple symptoms, and not everyone suffers from the same ones. Symptoms commonly appear, seemingly without explanation and often under the wrong diagnoses, but people’s lives have been changed through simple TMJ treatment.

So how do we discover if you have TMJ or TMD? Well, we start with a thorough medical background check. How long have you had the symptoms? Do you have a history of trauma to the face, head, or neck? Have you tried any other forms of therapy or treatment? Your answers to these questions will greatly help me determine your problem and how to solve it.

Treatment of TMJ begins with a series of tests to diagnose the condition as accurately and thoroughly as possible. After that, patients are frequently given exercises to perform at home, a splint to aid in correcting the jaw’s alignment, or are requested to arrange meetings with a local physical therapist on a weekly or biweekly basis. Extreme cases may require surgery.

So if you think you are suffering from TMJ, request an examination. Ask your dentist about the things you can be doing to prevent TMJ. It is always better to speak up than to let the problem sit and grow worse!

Dr. Sperbeck, West Los Angeles

Why Does My Veneer Keep Falling Off?

This is a true story told to me by a new patient named Stacey.

Stacey is originally from the East Coast and was given my name by a dentist who attended the Pankey Institute, an entity that teaches a sophisticated way to repair mouths.

Anyway, back to my story. Stacey asked me how long a veneer should last. The answer is usually a long time. Some of the first ones I placed almost 25 years ago are still in the mouth and functioning well. Stacey, on the other hand, has had three replacements of her veneer in the last three years. This is obviously far too frequent, especially since she had had to pay each time. To make matters worse, these three replacements did not include the multiple times she had to have them re-cemented them. When I met Stacey today, she was missing her right front tooth. Obviously this was not a pretty sight and she was not happy. I asked her if she wanted to find out WHY and, to her credit, she decided to let us discover the problem and plan the cure.

So this is what we did…

I started with a complete exam. This told me Stacey’s mouth has three problems:

1. She has been grinding her teeth!
2. The way her bite hit was causing all the force of the bite to come down right on the veneers which caused them to break the cement junction!
3. Her teeth are significantly worn down. This changes the the forces and dynamics of her mouth accentuating the harmful forces.

After completing the exam, I placed a temporary bonding on the front teeth. Stacey was ecstatic and I thought, “not bad if I did not say so myself.”

I also made some molds of her teeth to make her a TMJ splint called a MAGO. This appliance is used to help diagnose the true jaw position called CR (Centric Occlusion) and then we can find true, neutral position. Finally, after discovering the CR and the neutral positions, we are ready for the full diagnosis and we can develop the PLAN.

In the meantime, I think the temporary bonding will last through this time, giving Stacey a temporary beautiful smile while we work to give her her permanent, stable one. I will keep you posted.

Dr. Sperbeck, West Los Angeles

Help! I’m Grinding My Teeth!

Renee, one of our blog readers, posted this question:

I have a bad habit of grinding my front teeth. I think it’s just a nervous habit. I’ve done it for about 5 years. I do it all the time day and night. My bottom front three teeth are now smooth across the top. Do I need a mouth guard or anything else to break this nasty habit?


Dear Renee,

Uncontrolled grinding of teeth is never good. In healthy mouths, the amount of time teeth are in contact is very little. It is important to find the reason for your grinding. For some people, some medications can be the cause, but in the majority of cases I see, it has to do with a mal-alignment of teeth.

Teeth serve many roles for the body. One of the important roles is to help position the upper and lower jaws in relation to each other. They act as nerve extenders that are highly sensitive (about 20 million nerves per tooth) so if the teeth do not send the correct message to your brain like “Do not grind” then your natural defense mechanisms are not working. In other words, grinding is used by the body to help keep the jaw in alignment by wiping away the interferences to proper closing of the jaw. This is why it is important to find the cause of the interference and address it to protect both the jaw joint and the tooth structures.

Regarding mouth-guard /splints when made well and properly adjusted they can be highly effective in protecting the mouth. The key is properly understanding how the mouth is supposed to function so that the splint works in harmony with the jaw joint. I use splints to help me diagnose the extent of the mal-alignment. This help me decide what are the best choices to present to the patient for solution. Once the plan is devised then the implementation can take place. I feel a significant amount of dental problems are related to uncontrolled grinding.

I hope this helps answer your question.

Dr. Sperbeck, West Los Angeles