Addressing Jaw and Bite Issues
As an adult, you have between 28 and 32 teeth (depending on the number of wisdom teeth you’ve retained). Attaining optimum oral health and overall health for your occlusion or bite (how your upper and lower teeth fit together) is a key factor. Think of how many times a day you rely on your ability to chew or talk. If your teeth fit together with a minimum of stress or impact, your occlusion is normal and you may not even be aware of it. On the other hand, if you have a bite or occlusion that is abnormal, or if you cause stress through (often subconscious) tooth grinding, the resulting wear and stress can cause a host of dental, jaw, and pain issues. Early identification and treatment of any stress or malocclusion is important. While evaluating your bite and jaw are a routine part of your oral care with us, if you are experiencing any pain or discomfort (including headaches or neck pain), please be sure to tell your hygienist or the dentist so we can conduct a more complete examination.
TMD (temporomandibular dysfunction)
TMD is often called the “Great Imposter” because the symptoms mimic everything from tooth pain to headaches -- small wonder that many individuals suffer from TMD and don’t know it. The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is what allows your lower jaw to move, not only up and down, but sideways. It is formed of ligaments and muscles and shares nerves with a number of areas including teeth, sinuses -- even neck and back muscles. TMD is caused when your temporomandibular joint muscles go into spasm. This can be precipitated by a tooth grinding habit (often at night) or even an injury such as a blow to the jaw. If you are experiencing chronic pain in the head and neck area or others comment on a nocturnal or unconscious habit of grinding your teeth, it is important to let the doctor know so he can analyze you for possible TMD.
If you are diagnosed with TMD, there are effective treatments to relieve the discomfort and pain. Dr. McArdle can work with you on non-invasive measures including a night guard or splint. Should these not provide needed relief, other measures, such as a bite or occlusal adjustment, or surgery may be indicated. Dr. McArdle will work with you on the best course of treatment for your TMD.