Jaw Joint Therapy

Occlusal therapy addresses occlusal disease. Occlusal disease is a term few dental patients have heard before.  This is surprising because most people have some degree of occlusal disease.

What is occlusal disease?

Occlusal disease is characterized by a number of clinical indications that can be detected by your dentist.  It is occurs when the teeth, jaw joint, and jaw muscles are working out of harmony resulting in some teeth bearing the brunt of the bite force.  Undiagnosed, occlusal disease is responsible for the majority of tooth loss exceeding that caused by dental decay.  Left untreated, occlusal disease has the potential to affect all components of your chewing system: the teeth and the supporting bone, the gums, the TM joint, and the muscles.  Your teeth will not stand up to the destructive forces of an imbalanced bite.

What are the signs of occlusal disease?

  • Evidence of clenching and grinding
  • Flat worn teeth
  • Chipped or broken teeth
  • Short, square looking teeth
  • Receding gums
  • Notches and erosion of the teeth at the gumline
  • Cold sensitivity
  • Generalized tooth sensitivity
  • Recurring shoulder, neck, or back tension
  • Headaches
  • Clicking or popping in the joint
  • Tooth mobility
  • Excessive number of root canals
  • Fractured porcelain

What can be done to address a dysfunctional bite?

The ideal bite relationship that has all parts of the system functioning in harmony is rarely found naturally.  Most people with the ideal bite relationship have had it produced by a dentist in a process called occlusal adjustment or equilibration.  Often reconstructive dentistry is required to restore proper function to teeth that have been worn down by years with a dysfunctional bite.

An appliance to be worn at night (NTI, Anterior Bite Planes, Full Night Guard) is also key in reducing wear on the teeth.

You do not have to live with discomfort.  There are options available to you—assessment for occlusal disease is a crucial step in your journey towards optimum dental health.

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