If you have visibly crooked teeth, you have probably considered orthodontics for cosmetic reasons. However, if your teeth look straight, you probably haven’t given any thought to your bite. Even if it is not noticeable, malocclusion can lead to serious problems, including TMJ disorder.
What is malocclusion?
The term occlusion refers to the way your upper and lower teeth meet when your mouth is closed. Ideally, the grooves and points of opposing teeth fit together like the pieces in a jigsaw puzzle. The upper teeth should overlap the lowers slightly, without protruding. With all surfaces making contact perfectly, the force when you bite down is evenly distributed. Malocclusion means that something is out of alignment.
Malocclusion creates an imbalanced force when you bite down. Some teeth bear too much pressure, which can cause excessive wear, fractures, sensitivity, or failure of dental restorations. However, the potential damage is not confined to dental issues.
Your muscles automatically react to the imbalance by trying to pull your jaw into alignment. The strain on jaw muscles can cause fatigue or hyper-functionality (not relaxing). Over time, it can cause a condition known as TMJ disorder.
What is TMJ?
Technically a TMJ (Temporomandibular joint) is a jaw joint. There is one on either side of your head, connecting your skull and lower jaw. These complex joints are capable of multi-directional, precision movements. They can also exert a tremendous amount of force. Like a sophisticated machine, if any part of this system is out of balance, the overall functionality will suffer.
Disorders of the TMJ can cause jaw pain, difficulty chewing or opening your mouth, and locking or popping jaws. You may be surprised to learn that this condition can also cause pain in many areas of your upper body, and problems such as dizziness and tinnitus. It is a common cause of chronic headaches and migraines.
It is virtually impossible to tell if you have TMJ disorder without evaluation by a trained professional. Misalignment is one of many potential triggers for the condition. Others include heredity, arthritis, teeth grinding, and oral trauma. This complex disorder is frequently the result of several combined factors. Dr. Don Mungcal has extensive experience in successfully reliving the pain of TMJ disorder. He provides customized treatment because every patient is unique. This may include bite reconstruction, an oral appliance, or orthodontics.
If you suffer from chronic pain or recurring dental problems, call 213-863-9464 and schedule an appointment at Downtown Dental today. We are committed to improving the health and happiness of Los Angeles and West Hollywood residents, one smile at a time.