EAST GRINSTEAD SURGERY
Dental occlusion is another name for the way that your teeth meet when you bite together.
TMJ is the abbreviation of temporo-mandibular joint. Which is the joint connecting your lower jaw and skull. The movement in this joint lets you open and close your mouth and chew from side to side.
If your teeth do not fit together properly you can have problems not only in your teeth themselves but also in the gums, the temporo-mandibular joint or the muscles that move your jaw.
Teeth that are out of line, heavily worn or constantly breaking, fillings that fracture or crowns that become loose may all be signs of occlusal problems. Your teeth may also be tender to bite on or may ache constantly.
Loose teeth or receding gums can be made worse by an incorrect bite.
Clicking, grinding or pain in your jaw joints, ringing or buzzing in your ears and difficulty opening or closing your mouth could all be due to your teeth not meeting properly.
If your jaw is in the wrong position, the muscles that move the jaw have to work a lot harder and can get very tired. This leads to muscle spasms. The main symptoms are continual headaches or migraine, especially first thing in the morning; pain behind your eyes, sinus pain and pains in your neck and shoulders. Sometimes back muscles can be involved.
Many people have imperfect occlusion and missing teeth, yet have never had symptoms as they adjust to their symptoms as they adjust to their problems. Occasionally in times of increased stress and tension, the symptoms may appear and then go away immediately. Or your teeth and gums may be affected straight away and instead of headaches you may suffer from
If you think that you may have any of these problems ask your dentist.
You may find that you clench or grind your teeth, although most of the people who are not aware of it. Sometimes it can be caused by anxiety, but generally most people clench their teeth when they are concentrating on a task – housework, gardening, car mechanics, typing and so on.
Up to 1 in 4 people may have symptoms. Both men and women can be affected, although women tend to seek treatment more often than men. The symptoms can often start with the menopause or after hormonal changes.
See your dentist. He or she may be able to help you or may refer you to a specialist who deals with occlusal problems.
Depending on the problems that you are having, it can be possible to spot the signs of an occlusal problem. Various muscles may be sore when tested, or the broken or worn areas of your teeth will show that you are grinding your teeth which are a common signs of an incorrect bite.
If your dentist suspects that your problems are due to an incorrect bite he or she may help improve the problem by supplying a temporary soft night guard or hard plastic appliance (TMJ -Occlusal splint) which fits over your upper or lower teeth. This appliance needs to be measured and fitted very accurately so that when you bite on it your teeth all meet at the same time in a position where your muscles are relaxed. You may have to wear this all of the time or just at night. If the appliance relives your symptoms your bite may need to be corrected permanently. This is normally followed by Orthodontic treatment.
If your teeth are far too out of line or in a totally incorrect bite position, it may be necessary to fit an orthodontic appliance to move them into a better position.
Your teeth may need to be carefully adjusted to meet evenly. Changing the direction and position of the slopes that guide your teeth together can often help to reposition the jaw.
The temporo-mandibular joint needs equal support from both sides of both jaws. The chewing action is designed to work properly only when all of your teeth are present and in the correct position. Missing teeth may need to be replacing either with a partial denture, bridge work, dental implants and crowns.
Replacement of teeth is not usually carried out until a diagnosis has been confirmed by using an appliance and this has fully relived the symptoms. Relief in some patients is instant, whilst in others it can take a long time.
Some drugs can help in certain cases, but this is usually only temporarily. Hormone replacement therapy can help some women.
As with any joint pain, it can help to put less stress on the joint. So a soft diet can be very helpful, as can corrective exercises and external heat. Physiotherapy exercises can often help, and your dentist may be able to show some of these to you.
Counselling and relaxation therapy may help in some cases. These techniques help the patient to become more aware of stressful situations and to control the tension.