I was driving behind a car a few days ago and noticed that one of its back tires was obviously out of alignment. The wheel seemed to shimmy madly as the other tires hummed along in harmony. Even though the car’s driver may not have felt the effects of her misaligned wheel, the premature wearing down of the tire will become obvious before long.
Having things in alignment is also beneficial when it comes to your smile. When upper teeth do not fit harmoniously with lower teeth, the delicate balance of teeth, jaw joints and facial muscles can be disrupted, often more than is obvious.
A bite that is misaligned can lead to strain in the temporo-mandibular joints (TMJ) or jaw joints. These joints are just in front of the ears and hinge the lower jaw to the skull. An improper bite can cause the jaws to move during sleep in an attempt to find a relaxed position. However, this effort to self-adjust tends to transfer one problem to another. As the jaws shift, the teeth tend to clamp together. This, in turn, triggers a grinding motion.
Grinding and clenching can lead to frequent headaches, migraines, sore jaw joints, dizziness, ear ringing, and limited ability to open the mouth. Misaligned teeth ‘hit wrong,’ making them more likely to experience cracks, breaks and chips. Even worse than these costly problems is the susceptibility of teeth breaking below the gum line. When this occurs, the tooth will likely require removal.
TMJ disorders can compromise the health of your teeth in other ways as well. As teeth grind back and forth, tooth enamel is worn down. This leaves teeth vulnerable to decay and sensitivity.
Worn teeth, a common sign of bite misalignment, cause the tops of teeth to flatten out. This creates a straight-across line without the natural contours typical of teeth. Worn teeth are also shorter than they should be.
In our office, your 6-month checkups include an evaluation of your bite and noting signs of abnormal wear. However, many people experience headaches, dizziness or jaw tenderness before their teeth reveal bite misalignment.
Patients are urged to communicate these symptoms since they may be related to bite problems. Unfortunately, many people are not aware that these symptoms are common signs of jaw joint disorders. They often go from doctor to doctor seeking relief, only to be treated with prescription medications that merely mask the true problem.
The first step is to determine if TMJ is the true source of your problem. If so, we will pinpoint the source and develop a treatment plan to restore proper bite alignment and alleviate stress from the jaw joints.
In some cases, minor reshaping of selected teeth can correct bite problems. However, if more extensive reshaping is needed, crowns may be advised. If misalignment is severe, orthodontic realignment may be needed to restore the proper fit of upper and lower teeth.
Remember, like a worn tire, worn teeth are a sign of a bigger problem that will only worsen without adjustments. Resolving bite problems early can help you avoid extensive treatment time and expense.
For a free, no-cost consultation, call 1-877-966-9009. During this time, we’ll discuss options that are appropriate for you. If desired, you can also meet with our Financial Coordinator to discuss payment plans that allow you to resolve your problem while making affordable monthly payments.