Everyone has an optimal bite – the way your upper and lower teeth fit together when you bite down. Your bite changes over time with age and development. The aging process also changes your bite and you may need to have your bite adjusted for certain dental procedures. Misalignment of the teeth or jaw prevents the bite from being ideal and consequently, malocclusion, or a bad bite, occurs. A bad bite can cause muscle pain in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). Neuromuscular dentistry corrects the jaw position to restore the correct bite.
Jaw pain, facial pain or a clicking of the jaw joint when you open or close your mouth can be indicators of TMJ pain. Chronic headaches and neck pain can also be signs of TMJ problems. When the muscles of the jaw are overworked or injured, TMJ or TMD (temporomandibular joint disorder) can develop.
Your dentist will check your bite and ask a series of questions to help determine the cause of your jaw pain. Gentle electrical stimulation (TENS) may be used to relieve the muscle tension and identify the best bite position. The relaxed facial muscles help the dentist determine where the ideal bite should be.
Tests and diagnostic imaging are often used to rule out other causes of jaw pain. Inflammation may be present and cause severe pain in the joint. This can be the case with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, both of which can attack the temporomandibular joint.
An accurate diagnosis is important in the treatment of TMJ/TMD. Neuromuscular dentistry is a relatively new field of dentistry, and there are few dentists who have the formal training and expertise necessary to effectively treat a bad bite. Dr. Perkins has studied in this branch of dentistry and is well qualified to address your jaw pain. Contact Smiles in Malibu to schedule an appointment with him, and relieve your pain.