Category Archives: TMD – Jaw Joints and Chewing Muscles

The Chewing Mechanism and Orthodontic Health

orthodontic health

Let’s narrow our focus now, leaving ideas pertaining to overall health, and visiting what we call the chewing mechanism or orthodontic health.  Of course, what we use to chew, the jaw joints, teeth, and chewing  muscles and nerves, are  used for a variety of other functions, chewing is the most active use of these parts of our body.  We also use the chewing mechanism when we speak, breath and make facial expressions. Let’s look at the characteristics of a healthy chewing mechanism. In the chewing action you need the jaw joint to be smooth, flexible, and comfortable. The second area involved is the bite, which should be solid, stable, and easy to use. The last area is the muscles and nerves need to be relaxed, comfortable and balanced. If all works well, then you won’t need Dr. Kellings’ help, but when they are not working right you are in pain then Dr. Kelling is the person you need. He can diagnose where the problem lies then provide you with a treatment plan.

Jaw Joint
Open your jaw all the way then shut it. You will see that the movement is done by TMJ which is the temporo-mandibular joint. The bone that forms the side of the skull is the temporal bone and the mandible (the lower jaw). It is a small disc of cartilage that separates the bone so that the mandible may slide easily whenever you talk, swallow, kiss, etc. Damage to this complex triangular structure, just in front of the ear, can cause a lot of discomfort. To locate this joint put your finger on the triangular structure in front of the ear. Move your finger just slightly forward then press firmly while you open your jaw all the way then close it. You can feel the joint motion in your ear canal.

What causes pain in this joint? It is because of displacement of the cartilage disc that caused pressure with stretching of the associate sensory nerves. The popping or clicking occurs when the disk snaps into place as the jaw moves. The chewing mechanism may spasm, not function efficiently, then cause pain and tenderness. Causes of these problems are trauma to the jaw, teeth grinding, excess gum chewing, stress and psychological factors, of course, improper bite with a malpositioned jaw, then last but not least arthritis.

In cases of injury, ice packs soon after the injury help to reduce swelling. Stress reduction, relaxation techniques, NSAID, muscle relaxants are used for relief. Treatment can involve a splint to align the upper and lower teeth, and last but not least surgery. After surgery the MD may send you to an orthodontist for further treatment, and management of the joint and pain.

The Bite
The bite should be solid, stable, and easy to do. Teeth, muscles, jaw joint and more, are all parts of the chewing system. All of these parts must work together for proper functioning to maintain orthodontic health . When one or more of the parts does not work right or malfunctions, problems develop.

Chewing Mechanism

A very common problem we see is a disharmony of the chewing system. In a healthy chewing system we find harmony and no pain. The muscles are relaxed. The joint is stable and the teeth work in a protected environment. When teeth bite together in the “normal” bite, all of the teeth work in a protected space, the teeth should contact all exactly at the same time along the axis of the tooth. Our goal at Raleigh Orthodontics is to promote orthodontic health as well as physical health, well-being, to prevent disease in all of our patients.

Muscles and Nerves
Some of the symptoms (problems people have happen) related to a Bad Bite are:

Tooth Problems:
• Tooth with a little pain
• Pain that is severe with a tooth, then death of the nerve that
will lead to a root canal
• Loss of a tooth
• A tooth that hurts with cold and air movement.
• (abfraction) or “melting” of a tooth surface.
• Tooth enamel that is worn down by contact with something.
• Chipped, tipping, with misalignment of teeth

Muscle Problems:
• Regular headache
• (headache pain) Migraine type
• Muscle spasm
• (Radiating pain to other muscles, teeth, eyes, ears, neck) are called trigger points. In severe cases, the
whole upper body will become involved.
• (jaw feels tired) Sore, easily fatigued muscles
Use caution—severe pain cases should be evaluated by a qualified team of Doctors, Specialist in Dental problems with the symptoms you are exhibiting.

Bone Problems:
• Recession of gum tissue around the teeth
• Loss of supporting bone around the teeth
• Horizontal bone loss around front and back teeth

Joint Problems:
• Jaw joint pain in front of the ears one or both sides (sometimes deep into the ear. (The pain feels like that of an earache.)
• Popping, clicking, grinding, and locking of the jaw joint.
• Joint surfaces melt down.
• Protective disc deterioration.

Nerve Problems:
• Precision dental sensory perception is lost.
• Throughout teeth, head, neck, and upper shoulders have radiating pain. ((WARNING: radiating pain to left jaw and left arm may be a sign
a heart related issue.)

Functional and Cosmetic Problems:
• (Teeth disappear behind lips) collapsed bite.
• (Deepening of wrinkles) collapsed lower face.
• (Sore, wet spots on corners of the mouth) drooping smile.
• (Lips become thin and lack fullness) loss of lip support.
• Cannot chew effectively.
• Swallowing problems

Orthodontic Treatment

What is done if you have any of these problems? Because a bad bite problem is quite complex, a diagnosis is necessary before or treatment is started. Diagnosis of the dental problem will uncover the cause of the problem so proper treatment can be planned out. It is necessary to understand the cause of the problems to be able to create a proper treatment plan. You are doing this to sort out the medical problems for referral to a physician, with dental problems being handled by a dentist in the specialty that is needed. So before good dental treatment can begin a proper diagnosis must be made.

The final process is described above and it requires a significant commitment on your part to get the best results. Investing both your time and money allow you the best orthodontic treatment possible. There are many options to decrease the amount of time and cost of treatment, but may not provide you with the best results. Our goal is to work with you to find out what is your best option, so that you can reach the desired outcome. We want you to have that “Great Smile”.

Orthodontic Health

For information about Dr. Bert and his practice please contact him by email at this website: Raleigh Orthodontics

If you want more information here is an external link for your use:  http://www.americanboardortho.orthodontic health

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