Bite disorders and occlusion refer to any problems associated with the way your teeth come together, and how that affects the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and jaw muscles.
When a person has a bite disorder or malocclusion, teeth, fillings, and crowns may wear, break, or loosen, and teeth may be tender or ache. Receding gums can become worse because of a faulty bite. TMJ problems, broadly termed temporomandibular joint disorder or TMJ syndrome, can include clicking, grinding, or pain in the jaw joint, ringing or buzzing in the ears, and difficulty opening and closing the mouth. If the jaw is positioned incorrectly, jaw muscles may have to work harder, which can lead to fatigue and or muscle spasms. This in turn can lead to headaches or migraines and pain in the eyes, sinuses, neck, shoulders, and back.
An occlusal analysis allows Dr. Lareau to examine the relationship of the upper and lower teeth, the position of the bite, and the facial muscles.
First, we take impressions and fabricate models of your teeth. Various wax bite records are acquired and are used to mount the models of your teeth on a dental articulator, a device used to simulate the movement of the upper and lower jaws. Dr. Lareau evaluates the mounted study models to form a diagnosis and develop a treatment plan. All treatment options will be discussed with you during your treatment consultation.
Occlusal Splint Therapy
An occlusal splint, or bite splint, allows the jaw to go where it naturally goes. It does not, by itself, change the bite or solve the bite or muscle problems. The occlusal splint only sets up conditions for healing. Usually, the length of time the occlusal splint is worn will vary from one to four months. Some patients continue to use this appliance as a night guard when sleeping.
During an occlusal equilibration, Dr. Lareau meticulously alters the biting surfaces of the teeth to meet predetermined criteria of an ideal occlusion (bite). The object is to produce sufficient harmony between the tooth contacts, the chewing muscles, and the temporomandibular joints (jaw joints) in order to prevent any further damage or breakdown to any of the tissues involved.