The reason we have periodic checks on the alignment and air pressure of our vehicle’s tires is to maintain proper balance. When a wheel is off kilter, it not only wears down the tire more rapidly than normal, it affects the other tires .
Think of the balance in your jaw joints as similar to this. When one or both TMJ (temporo-mandibular) joints is not properly balanced, the disparity can extend to seemingly unrelated areas. Yet, the relationship is there if you understand the inter-workings. I’ll explain.
The jaw joints are located on each side of the head just in front of the ears. They connect your lower jaw to the skull via sockets that rotate within these hinges. When the joints are in balance and moving properly, there is minimal stress on the joints. When an imbalance occurs, however, the potential problems can be far reaching.
Think about how often these joints are in motion. Every time you eat, drink, speak, or even lick your lips, these joints are moving.
TMJ disorder typically originates because of a misaligned bite. When the upper and lower teeth do not fit together harmoniously, the strain is transferred to the jaw joints. Bite alignment is the reason for worn or chipped teeth and the trigger for night-time clenching and grinding.
Common symptoms of TMJ disorders are frequent headaches, migraines, jaw joint tenderness or pain, difficulty opening the mouth fully, ear ringing, dizziness, and jaw popping.
During sleep, the jaw tends to search for balance. In doing so, it can prompt the action of clenching and grinding. This can damage teeth and also cause strain to head and neck muscles, which can trigger headaches and migraines.
Chipped and broken teeth commonly result from teeth that do not meet correctly. In chewing, for example, the grinding motion relies on the unified interaction of the upper teeth and lower teeth. When one or more teeth are not meeting others harmoniously, they ‘hit wrong.’ Some ‘hits’ are such that teeth can break or chip.
In our office, we are trained to note signs of abnormal wear and tear on teeth and check jaw joint function to gauge harmony. However, many people do not associate some of the symptoms of TMJ disorder with bite misalignment (such as headaches or dizziness) and fail to mention them.
If you are experiencing headaches, feel you are clenching at night, or have any other problems mentioned above, please alert us. We’ll conduct a thorough, painless examination to check for signs of TMJ disorder. If TMJ disorder does exist, we will discuss treatment recommendations to resolve the problem in the most conservative manner possible.
In some cases, a small oral appliance worn during sleep can resolve the problem. Other cases may involve the reshaping of certain teeth or even the placement of crowns to adjust tooth height. Realigning teeth may be necessary for more complex needs, through orthodontics. For these cases, we will discuss the ease and comfort of realignment through Invisalign.
The balance in your mouth reminds me of a song many of us learned as children… “Your head bone’s connected to your neck bone and your neck bone’s connected to your shoulder bone and your…” Throughout the body, proper function depends on proper balance. Let’s protect your smile and everything it’s connected to with the balance it needs!
Call 910-254-4555 to begin with a no-charge consultation appointment.