Bite Analysis & Adjustment
Our doctors have extensive training and experience in evaluating and improving the harmony of a patient’s bite. A properly aligned bite is an important foundation for a healthy mouth. Aligned doesn’t necessarily mean straight. In dentistry, the way your teeth and jaws relate in function is referred to as your occlusion. In a healthy bite relationship, your teeth should fit comfortably together while the lower jaw is evenly centered in the joints on both sides of your skull. When you bite down, as many of your back teeth as possible should touch with an even force on the flat surfaces and not on the inclined ones. This allows the force of your bite to be directed in the least destructive direction to the areas that are most resistant to stress. An additional requirement for a healthy bite is that your back teeth should come apart when your front teeth work against each other. This relationship helps protect the teeth by preventing excessive forces from being applied.
There are many ways that a bite can be imperfect. When teeth do not meet evenly, with only a few teeth making contact, the jaw is out of alignment. You may make an unconscious effort to correct this by moving your jaw slightly out of socket to make your teeth fit together better. This can cause muscle stress, fatigue and over time, may even cause the joint itself to deteriorate.
For some patients, the answer to improving their bite relationship is a simple modification called a bite adjustment or occlusal equilibration. They can be smoothed or reshaped to enable the teeth to meet more evenly and soundly thus improving the bite relationship and the overall stability and the overall health of the jaw.
TMJ & TMD Therapy
TEMPOROMANDIBULAR DISORDERS (TMD)
TMD, shorthand for temporomandibular disorders, is a group of conditions that include headaches, muscle pain, and jaws that lock open or closed or make sounds during movement. You may experience pain or limitations to the function of your jaws that affect speaking, swallowing and eating. Although some TMD symptoms are challenging to treat, the majority are relatively easy and treatment can provide dramatic improvements in function and a decrease in pain. TMD problems can have many causes or triggers as well as a wide spectrum of symptoms. Although it’s often impossible to identify a single origin of TMD issues, these disorders are most common among women between the ages of 30 and 50 and may be related to stress, tension or even poor posture. Dental issues such as damaged teeth or an overbite can also lead to TMD/TMJ problems.
The most common TMD/TMJ symptoms include:
- Uncomfortable bite
- Grinding of teeth or “bruxism”
- Pain in or around the ear
- Tenderness of the jaw
- Neck aches
- Clicking or popping noises when opening and closing the mouth
Other potential symptoms of a TMJ problem may include:
- Stuffy ears
- Worn down teeth
- Loose teeth
- Broken teeth
- Gum recession
- Bone loss around the teeth
- Clenching or bruxing
- Facial pain
- Tooth sensitivity to hot and cold
- Difficulty chewing
- Locked jaw
- Inability to bite all the way down
- Limited mouth opening
- Changing bite
- Tinnitus (ringing in ears)
TEMPOROMANDIBULAR JOINT (TMJ) DISEASE
TMJ disease refers to problems with the joints on either side of your face. TMJ disease occurs when there has been damage to the actual joint, including the cartilage, soft tissue and/or bones. One of the most common signs is popping or clicking noises when you open and close your mouth. These noises may occur sporadically, or every time you open and close. The noise occurs as the bones move off and on the cartilage and indicates that some damage has already occurred to the joint. It is important to understand whether the damage was isolated or is ongoing and could result in problems like chronic joint pain or your jaws locking. A joint exam by one of our highly trained doctors will allow us to better understand the health of the joint and the condition of the cartilage.
Headaches are common, and all of us get them from time to time. If you have headaches a number of times per week and they are affecting your quality of life, accurately diagnosing the cause is important. There are many types of headaches, but muscle tension headaches around the face and temples are a common symptom of TMD. This process often begins as a tiredness of the facial muscles, or fatigue when eating chewy foods. A complete muscle exam can reveal muscle tightness and inflammation and whether your bite is part of the cause. A custom mouth guard, usually worn during the night can be an effective way to relieve the muscle tension and reduce or eliminate muscle tension headaches.
Drs. Hunt & Lestini have participated in thousands of hours in advanced education on diagnosing and treating disorders relating to the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). Much of their advanced training on TMJ disorders at the Pankey Institute, where Dr. Richard Hunt now serves as a clinical instructor. They are also members of the American Equilibration Society, the largest organization in the world that deals with the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of dental occlusion (bite problems) and temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) and associated muscles.
Contact Our Office
If you are suffering from TMD, it is important to see a highly trained dentist who can help treat the problem at its source. The dentists at Hunt & Hunt Dentistry have advanced training through the prestigious Pankey Institute. They are highly skilled in non-invasive and collaborative care for your TMD. Schedule an appointment by calling 252-316-2214. We are located at 111 Candlewood Road in Rocky Mount, NC.