Occlusal Disease/Unbalanced Bite
Symptoms that may be linked to occlusal disease/unbalanced bite:
- Tooth sensitivity
- Change in bite, alignment, and fit of teeth
- Chipped and thinning teeth
- Abrasions (grooves and notches on teeth, and root structure along the gums exposing dentin)
- Clenching and grinding teeth
- Headaches and pain that radiates in your face, jaw, or neck
- Stiff jaw muscles
- A jaw that clicks, pops, or locks
What Is Occlusal Disease/Unbalanced Bite?
An unbalanced bite or poor fitting bite in which the teeth are misaligned can cause the TMJ (temporomandibular joint) and the muscles of mastication (chewing) to be under strain where the bite comes together.
Strain and spasm in the muscles of mastication, combined with stress, can trigger clenching or grinding (bruxism). Teeth can become damaged, and TMJ symptoms worsen. Often, patients also experience head and neck stiffness, as well as pain in the morning when they awake.
Due to excessive bite forces and interference, a major consequence of an unbalanced bite is significant damage to tooth structure. We often see multiple teeth with vertical fracture lines; chipped, thinning enamel; excessive wear facets; grooves and notches on teeth; generalized wear in root structure; damage to enamel; and refractured restorations.
These issues can be addressed by aligning teeth with traditional orthodontics or Invisalign®. It needs to be ensured that teeth are functioning correctly in the bite and that the bite fits correctly. When necessary, the fit of the bite is restoratively balanced by adding new surfaces and removing interferences.
Often, the most important (first) step is to use the correct night guard appliance to disclude the bite, prevent strain on the TMJ system, and prevent further damage to the TMJ disk, muscles, and teeth. Generally, night guards that have a deprogrammer like the NTI and E-appliance work well in these scenarios, because they prevent the bite fit from causing strain.
TMJ Treatment Options
One of the appliances Dr. Azarbal uses—the E-appliance—is from the Eubank Dental Group. The E-appliance is an orthotic for both your upper and lower teeth. Our dentist will take impressions of your teeth to provide you with a customized appliance. Regular wear will prevent or greatly reduce teeth grinding and clinching. It also stabilizes your teeth and gently helps your muscles move your joint to its proper natural position.
Dr. Azarbal also uses the NTI, a small appliance that fits on your front upper or lower teeth, to prevent teeth grinding and clinching. This appliance is also custom made to fit your teeth.
Left untreated, an unbalanced bite can lead to damage and fracturing of teeth and supporting structure, resulting in possible loss of teeth and/or need for extensive restorative work.
If you are experiencing any of the signs and symptoms associated with occlusal disease/unbalanced bite, it is important to have your bite and TMJ evaluated.
Dr. Azarbal has received extensive training in occlusion to balance the bite to create the proper function and comfort. He understands how the muscles, bones, and joints that are associated with your jaw should work together. He will thoroughly examine your teeth, mouth, and joints to provide an accurate diagnosis and treatment to relieve your pain.
Getting Relief for Your TMJ Pain and Discomfort
If you want to find out if you have a TMJ disorder, or if you know you have the disorder, and you want relief, call us to schedule an appointment, or request an appointment online.