Balancing the Bite to Treat TMJD
Dr. George treats TMJD patients using a balanced approach. In fact, the entire TMJD treatment is about balance. Balancing the bite in turn, then balances the muscles and the bones of the TMJ.
If the bite is left unbalanced, TMJD and other dental health problems can develop. An unbalanced bite can cause uneven wear on the teeth, damage to the tooth enamel, damage to bony structures of the joints, and even tooth loss.
Sometimes dental restorations can cause the bite to go “bad”. A new crown or bridge can cause the bite to become unbalanced. Even just a millimeter or two of difference between one side and the other can throw off the jaw and cause pain. Any change in the mouth- no matter how small- needs to be measured for its impact on the bite.
A great way to visualize that impact of change in the mouth is to think about replacing the tires on your car. If the tread on all four of your tires is worn down, replacing just one tire will cause a noticeable change in how your car drives and may cause uneven wear on the car’s components. Replacing all four tires would be a better option to minimize uneven wear and ensure your car drives properly.
Technology Can Help Treat TMJD
Dr. George can help treat TMJD and restore balance to your bite by using advanced dental technology. Dr. George uses a Myotronics K-7 diagnostic machine to measure and record muscle activity and tension during biting and chewing. The K-7 is also used to track jaw movement to see if there is a dysfunction with the temporomandibular joints that may contribute to painful TMJD. The K-7 is an invaluable tool that also allows Dr. George to find your proper bite position.
Once your proper bite has been established through using the K-7, Dr. George will create a custom TMJ orthotic for you. This orthotic is an orthopedic, dental appliance designed to correct jaw and bite misalignment by moving the jaw to its natural, relaxed position. Not only does the orthotic help to correct the jaw, but the muscles surrounding the jaw also return to their natural, relaxed position. Further orthopedic changes are seen in the neck and even the shoulders, as the body returns to its correct posture.
Although this orthotic is removable, consistent (24 hours a day, 7 days a week) wear of the orthotic is recommended for many patients to promote healing of painful symptoms and prevent future damage. Some patients, with mild TMJD symptoms, may only be required to wear the orthotic part time. Dr. George will discuss your treatment course and give you specifics on wearing your orthotic during your follow up consultation.
T-Scan™ bite technology is also used in our practice. The T-Scan™ is used to measure the force of your bite and helps Dr. George adjust your dental orthotic, if necessary, to ensure your bite position is maintained.
If the orthotic is worn properly and as directed, the symptoms of TMJD will subside over time. After just a few months, many patients find relief. Tense jaw muscles relax, the pain goes away, and the normal function of the jaw is restored. After this initial period, the orthotic must be adjusted to accommodate for relaxed jaw muscles.
Ultra low frequency transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) therapy is also used in our practice. TENS therapy is beneficial for patients with tight and tense jaw muscles that are caused by unbalanced bite and TMJD.
When the patient is free of pain and other TMJD symptoms for several months, Dr. George will review possible long-term treatment options, some of which may be permanent solutions, to prevent pain and further damage.
Long Term Treatment Options for TMJD
There are long term treatment options for TMJD patients. These long term options include extended wear of TMJD dental orthotics, Neuromuscular braces, and dental crowns. These treatments are used to balance and maintain the integrity of the bite. By correcting and maintaining the bite for the long term, TMJD pain and symptoms not only subside, but also stay away, leaving patients free to enjoy life once again.
Want to learn more about dental orthotics for TMJD treatment? Call us today at 724-934-3422 to discuss your treatment options.