Jaw Pain and a Healthy Bite

Headaches, pain in the jaw joints, teeth breaking, accelerated tooth wear, sensitive teeth and many other symptoms that affect your comfort and the quality of your life can be caused by an unhealthy condition called "Malocclusion". Also known as "temporomandibular joint dysfunction" (TMJD), this condition is simply an unhealthy, destructive bite.

Finding Solutions for Pain and Discomfort

What are the solutions for jaw pain?

To find relief from the pain and discomfort of an unhealthy bite, we have two effective treatment methods. The first is an occlusal orthotic device or bite splint, and the second solution is bite equilibration, or balancing of your bite.

In much the same way a brace is used to support and strengthen a damaged knee or a set of crutches works to relieve pressure on a broken bone, the bite splint helps to relieve stress and strengthen unhealthy joints and teeth. The device is made of a low profile clear plastic material that is fashioned to perfectly fit your teeth. It can be made to fit over either the upper or lower teeth. Its function is to relax your muscles which relieves the pain in your joint. The bite splint will guide your jaw joints to move into their proper position in order to protect your teeth and joints from further damage.

Through the process of equilibration, or bite balancing, we selectively reshape the biting surfaces of your teeth to allow the muscles to pull the teeth together with equal and balanced pressure. This allows the jaw joints to seat solidly in their most stable position. With this condition of stability and balance, headaches are often eliminated because the joints and the teeth with the supporting bone are in the strongest position to resist the wear and tear of a lifetime of function. A balanced bite is a comfortable bite; alleviating many of the underlying causes of facial pain.

What are the signs of an unhealthy bite?

The discomfort of jaw pain is often the last great motivator that causes people to seek immediate dental treatment. But an unhealthy bite can be silently destructive even if you are not in pain—slowly damaging your teeth and bone, accelerating gum recession, and ultimately contributing to tooth loss. You may notice painless symptoms such as worn, flat, chipped or loose teeth, or recession of gum tissue. If detected early, we can address the underlying factors and halt the progression of the damage.

What can I do to have a "healthy" bite?

We suggest that by the age of 40 each patient should have a bite analysis to assess the condition of their joint. We begin by performing a thorough evaluation of your teeth, the gum tissues and supporting bone, the facial muscles involved in chewing, and the temporomandibular joints or jaw joints. This information is essential in determining any underlying risk factors and in planning the treatment that is right for your unique situation. Helping you achieve a healthy bite plays a vital role in your oral health and is an important part of our endeavor to help you keep a beautiful, healthy smile for a lifetime.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you wake up with sore, stiff muscles around your jaw?
  • Do you have frequent headaches, neck aches or facial pain? Does the pain get worse when you clench your teeth?
  • Does stress make your clenching and pain worse?
  • Does your jaw click, pop, grate, catch or lock when you open your mouth?
  • Do you have teeth that no longer touch when you bite?
  • Is it hard to use your front teeth to bite or tear food?
  • Have the tops of your teeth become worn and flat? Do you find yourself grinding your teeth?