The fit and function of your bite are important aspects of your overall oral health. A bite that is uncomfortable or uneven is often the underlying cause of other dental problems and can cause a range of symptoms affecting your quality of life. Discomfort resulting from a bite problem can include jaw pain, neck pain, headaches, and tension in the neck and shoulders.
The jaw joint or temporomandibular joint (TMJ) needs to function without tension or pain to support your oral health. When there is dysfunction in the bite, it is referred to as a TMJ disorder because the dysfunction in the jaw joint is often the underlying problem. The severity of the problem and the symptoms it causes will determine the best course of treatment to improve your oral health. The first step is an evaluation of your dental health and a discussion of your symptoms and concerns.
Treating TMJ: a conservative approach
Treating a TMJ disorder can be complex. Problems with the bite and jaw joints can affect your daily comfort and quality of life. Our goal is to develop an understanding of how your bite is functioning and if the teeth are making proper contact when biting down. A common cause of a TMJ problem is malocclusion or crooked teeth. If the teeth cannot make proper contact, tension can be created in the jaw muscles.
In this case, we may recommend exploring orthodontics. If clear aligners are considered a good treatment option, Dr. Gayed and Dr. Shaw are Chicago area Invisalign providers in Lincoln Park. We will look for the signs of teeth grinding, a common symptom of a TMJ disorder.
Worn teeth or teeth that have become chipped or cracked may result from frequent grinding or jaw clenching. Teeth grinding and jaw clenching or bruxism can be treated conservatively with a night guard. Fitted like a custom sports mouthguard, a night guard will prevent teeth grinding and subsequent damage. It may also enable your jaw to relax and reduce tension.