Comfort and Balance
Problems associated with bite disharmonies can vary from broken teeth and fillings, loosening of teeth, to neck pain and headaches. Occlusion, the relationship of the upper teeth to the lower teeth, is classified as either functional or parafunctional. Functional occlusion refers to the dental relationship during swallowing and chewing.
Teeth mesh only briefly during swallowing and do not meet during chewing due to the presence of the food bolus. Dental and muscular-facial problems develop when when teeth meet in function while they are bruxing or clenching. Bruxing is the movement of one tooth surface against the opposing tooth surface, while clenching is the static vertical force of one tooth against it’s opposing tooth.
Parafunctional actions, which can cause teeth & fillings to fracture and teeth to loosen, will result in muscular pain and in headaches. Proper treatment depends on the development of a diagnosis as to the cause of the specific problem. Because there may be a psychological or stress aspect as to the origin of the bruxism or clenching, the dentist may be able to eliminate the cause, but can do much to alleviate the symptoms. The evaluation of the occlusion is known as an occlusal analysis. This procedure allows the dentist to examine the relationship of the upper and lower teeth, the position of the mandibular condyles and the facial muscles.
Impressions are taken, and stone casts (replicas) of the dental arches are fabricated. Various wax bite records are acquired and are used to mount the stone casts on a dental articulator, a device used to simulate the movement of the upper and lower jaws. From the evaluation of the mounted study casts, your dentist will then be able to form a diagnosis and develop a treatment plan. Treatment will depend upon the severity of the problems and the needs of the patient. All treatment plans re fully discussed during the treatment consultation.
Occlusal Splint Therapy / Nightguard
For those patients who have been experiencing some type of jaw or facial pain, an occlusal splint may be recommended.
As occlusal (“bite”) splint is diagnostic: repositioning, relaxing, reversible and protective. It allows the jaw to go where it “wants” to go. It does not, by itself, change the bite or solve the occlusal or muscle problems. The occlusal splint only sets up conditions for healing. The rate at which the body will heal and repair itself depends on individual characteristics, and the relief of the signs and symptoms will vary from partial to total. Usually, the length of time the occlusal splint is worn will vary from one or four months. Some patients continue to use this appliance as a nightguard when sleeping.
Except when eating, you should wear your occlusal splint if you are having pain. You will notice when you first remove the occlusal splint from your mouth for eating or cleaning that the teeth will contact differently. This occurs because of the healing and settling of the jaw joint.
Our goal is not only to get you out of pain, but to create an oral condition that allows you to stay out of pain. Healthy and Pain Free is a good way to be.
If you wish more information regarding Occlusal Analysis or Nightguards, or wish to find out how our highly trained staff might assist you, please call us at Hamilton Office Phone Number 406-375-1192. You may also email us through the “contact us” page on this website.