Did you know that the way your teeth come together affects all the muscles of your head and neck? The teeth, jaws, TMJ, and muscles of the head and neck are all intimately connected. If your bite, or the way your teeth fit together, is in a position that is uncomfortable for the muscles, then one of two things can happen. The muscles can win the battle and force the teeth to a place that is more comfortable. This will result in wear and fracturing of teeth, but patients will rarely have any symptoms of pain. The second possibility is that the teeth win the battle and continuously posture the muscles in an uncomfortable position. This will result in migraines, headaches, neck pain, and/or pain in the TMJ. Think of it this way. If you wear a high heel on one foot and a flip flop on the other foot and go for a 5 mile hike, it will be more than just your feet that hurt. Your knees, hips and back will also feel this imbalance. It is the same with our bite. If the bite is in a bad position it causes strain on all the muscles related to this poor positioning. We will even posture our head differently if our bite is uneven. This causes strain in our upper spine.
So, what can we do about it? What if we could change the way your teeth fit together to make the muscles comfortable again, and bring the TMJ, bite, and muscles back in harmony? WE CAN! It all starts with an initial TMJ consultation. We can measure the activity of the muscles of the head and neck to find the exact position that will be most comfortable for you. Then, we test drive this position with a device called an orthotic. The orthotic fits over your lower teeth and repositions the lower jaw to a physiologic position that’s comfortable to the muscles. Many patients experience relief from their pain and headaches almost immediately. For others the joint and muscles need a little time to heal. During the orthotic phase of treatment, the position of the jaws is fine-tuned until symptoms are resolved or significantly improved.
Now that the orthotic has helped to find that harmony between the joints, muscles, and jaws, the next step is to move the teeth to that harmonious position. This can be accomplished several ways. Teeth can be orthodontically moved to the new position, or the teeth can be restored with crowns and/or veneers to the physiologic position, or a combination of these methods may be utilized. Ultimately the result is a pain-free, beautiful smile to last you a lifetime!