Acute Jaw Pain: What Causes It and How Do We Treat It?

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Chronic or intense jaw pain can be debilitating, making it difficult to speak or eat properly. When the pain is severe enough, it can even disrupt your sleep or limit your ability to function normally in your everyday life.

Jaw pain can include jaw tenderness, pain when you bite down, pain in or around your ears, and headaches. There are many possible causes of jaw pain, so it can be challenging to diagnose what is causing it.

Read on to learn some of the common causes of acute jaw pain and how we treat it here at Eggert Family Dentistry using a device called the Aqualizer®.

Common Causes of Jaw Pain

While over-the-counter painkillers and anti-inflammatories can temporarily reduce jaw pain, to properly treat it you need to determine the root cause.

There are several conditions that can contribute to severe jaw pain, some of which are related to dental health, but not all. It’s important to consult both Dr. Eggert and your physician to diagnose the cause of your jaw pain. They will do a thorough exam, which may include dental X-rays, CT scans, or blood work.

The most common causes of jaw pain include:

Decayed or Abscessed Teeth

Pain from tooth decay or a tooth abscess can radiate to the jaw. Treatment may include fillings, crowns, a root canal, or extraction, depending on the severity of the problem.

Gum Infection

A gum infection is usually caused by bacteria that multiplies due to poor oral hygiene. The most effective initial treatment is a deep cleaning called scaling and root planing. Occasionally adding localized antibiotics can also improve the infection. Improved oral hygiene can help manage the gum disease caused by a gum infection and hopefully prevent future acute incidents.

Cluster Headaches or Migraines

A migraine typically presents as a throbbing headache on one side of the head, while a cluster headache usually starts as pain behind or around one of the eyes. Both can also send pain to the jaw. There are also times when overuse of the jaw muscles or jaw joint can send pain signals that manifest as cluster headaches or migraines.

Sinus or Ear Infections

Infections of the sinuses or ear canals can also cause pain to radiate to the jaw. When sinuses or ears become infected, often an excess of mucus puts pressure on the jaw joint, causing pain.

Heart Attack or Angina

Jaw pain can sometimes accompany a heart attack or angina. During a heart attack, pain can radiate to the arms, back, neck, or jaw. Women are especially likely to experience jaw pain on the left side when having a heart attack.

If you experience any of the following symptoms along with your jaw pain (even if you don’t have chest pain) you should immediately call 911:

  • Chest discomfort
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Feeling faint

Trigeminal Neuralgia

Trigeminal neuralgia is a condition commonly caused by compression of the trigeminal nerve—a large, three-part cranial nerve that provides sensation to a large portion of the face, including the upper and lower jaws. This condition causes brief but excruciating jaw and facial pain on one side of the face. It can feel like shooting, stabbing, or electrical pain, and can mimic dental pain. Treatment for trigeminal neuralgia typically involves medication or surgery.

TMJ or TMD

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction, or Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD) are the most common causes of jaw pain. The temporomandibular joints are the hinge joints on each side of your jaw. Pain can originate in either the joints themselves or the muscles surrounding the joints. This condition can be difficult to treat because there are multiple potential causes, including: muscle pain, jaw joint injury, overstimulation of the jaw joint, a displaced disc, or arthritis of the protective disc that cushions the jaw joint.

Damage to the jaw joint or the muscles that control your jaw movement can be caused by several factors, including:

  • Grinding your teeth
  • Involuntarily clenching your jaw due to stress or anxiety
  • Jaw joint trauma, such as a sports injury or other facial injury
  • Upper airway resistance syndrome (UARS) and lack of reparative sleep

TMJ or TMD muscle tension can often be treated with muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatory drugs, or a custom fitted dental orthotic (similar in concept and shape to a mouth guard). Joint dysfunction is generally treated with anti-inflammatories and sometimes arthroscopic surgery.

Bruxism

A person with Bruxism grinds or clenches their teeth, either while sleeping or even throughout the day—and in most cases, they don’t realize they’re doing it. Bruxism is generally caused by stress, and it can, in turn, cause jaw pain. Bruxism can often be treated using a custom fitted dental orthotic—a splint typically worn at night, but sometimes with some day use if needed.

Treating Acute Jaw Pain with the Aqualizer®

At Eggert Family Dentistry, Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff use a device called the Aqualizer® to treat acute jaw pain.

The Aqualizer® is a self-adjusting dental splint used to diagnose how much a patient’s dental bite contributes to their jaw or facial pain. The extent that it helps relieve this pain indicates whether dental treatment will be an effective solution.

The Aqualizer® works by allowing the jaw muscles to automatically reposition the jaw to where it naturally works best. It allows the body to correct bite distortions to restore optimal function and balance. Biting down on the Aqualizer® causes the fluid contained in the device to distribute the bite force evenly across the bite, relieving jaw pressure and pain.

This device is meant to be used short-term and is helpful for acute jaw pain related to TMJ or Bruxism. In addition to treating jaw pain, it can also bring relief to chronic neck, shoulder, and migraine pain. It can be very helpful in narrowing in on a diagnosis for your problem.

Are You Suffering with Acute Jaw Pain? Schedule a Visit Today

If you are experiencing jaw pain, Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff are here to help. Schedule an exam today to determine the cause of your jaw pain and to discuss your treatment options, including whether an Aqualizer® may be right for you. To schedule an appointment, call our office at 651-482-8412.

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Teeth Grinding: Long Term Effects and Treatment Options

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

We all have different ways and different places we hold stress in the body. Some of us have a tense neck or tight shoulders or a tender lower back, which can all be stress responses to the ups and downs of this complicated world we live in.

From a dental perspective, there’s one stress response we frequently notice in some patients’ mouths: bruxism.

Bruxism is just a fancy word with Greek origins that means grinding the teeth. (It’s also a pretty good Scrabble word to keep in your back pocket, if you’re into that kind of thing.)

People with bruxism may grind or clench their teeth during waking hours without really noticing it, or they may grind or clench their teeth while they sleep. Either way, many or most bruxers aren’t aware that they grind or clench unless someone else alerts them to the situation, such as a dental professional or a sleeping partner. In fact, some bruxers don’t inflict serious damage on their teeth, and discover their bruxism habit due to TMJ problems, chronic headaches, or by recognizing how tense their jaw muscles tend to be.

However, bruxism can have very negative consequences on dental and oral health. Over time, people with bruxism can wear their teeth down to flattened surfaces with an even, square appearance. They may even end up with chipped, loose or even fractured teeth. What’s more, grinding and clenching can damage dental restorations such as crowns or fillings and cause premature failure.

Treating Bruxism with a Dental Splint

There are a variety of ways to treat bruxism.

The simplest treatment protects your teeth instantly: An occlusal appliance. This is a custom dental splint designed to be worn while sleeping. It prevents your teeth from touching and it also absorbs bite force. These are different from mouth guards, which are designed to protect your teeth from high-speed foreign objects like baseballs, hockey pucks, or impact with the ground.

Dental splints get high scores in protecting your teeth, but depending on how they are designed, they don’t always discourage the urge to grind, so patients may still suffer from other effects of grinding such as headaches, TMJ issues, and poor jaw mobility.

Other Treatments for Bruxism

There are other potential treatments for bruxism that aim to stop or discourage the grinding behavior, which will help alleviate those non-dental consequences listed above.

These treatments include:

  • Treatment for airway issues that may be causing the grinding
  • Prescription medications
  • Botulinum neurotoxin type A, more commonly known by the brand name Botox
    Counter stimulation, such a small electrical impulse that’s activated by clenching
  • Treating the underlying stress or anxiety that may be causing the bruxism
  • Behavioral techniques such as biofeedback therapy

Here at Eggert Family Dentistry, Dr. Jeff and Dr. Elizabeth screen for evidence of bruxism during our exams. If your teeth indicate any damage from grinding, we’re here to partner with you in resolving the problem. Likewise, if you’re experiencing any symptoms that could indicate bruxism, such as jaw pain and stiffness, chronic headaches and more, be sure to let us know so we can help you overcome this destructive and uncomfortable activity.

Prolonged teeth grinding or clenching has the potential to damage your teeth irreversibly, so it’s worth taking every possible measure to overcome bruxism and to mitigate its erosive effect on your teeth. We look forward to helping you overcome bruxism and enjoy healthy teeth and reduced jaw and facial tension. Call us today at 651.482.8412 to schedule your next appointment.

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Dental Health and Airway Issues

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

We’ve discussed the relationship between obstructed breathing and dental/oral health in other posts, such as The Link Between Airway and Dental Issues; The Effects of Airway Issues in Children; and What is the Seattle Protocol and How Does it Help Pinpoint Airway Obstructions?

Today, we’ll revisit the topic with particular focus on the tonsils and adenoids.

Airway issues, respiratory obstructions, and mouth-breathing can result in enlarged tonsils and adenoids, which can present their own set of health challenges.

What Are Tonsils and Adenoids?

Both tonsils and adenoids are lymphatic tissues, and are part of the body’s immune system.

You can sometimes see your tonsils: they are the two fleshy lumps visible at the back of the throat. They vary in size among different people. These glands occur in pairs, one on each side of the back of the throat at the junction of where the nasal passage meets the throat. Their job is to trap germs, including bacteria and viruses. They also produce antibodies which help destroy germs, preventing throat and lung infections. They usually reach full size by age 4.

Your adenoids are hidden from view. They hang from the upper part of the nasal cavity and can be examined by a medical professional aided with a mirror and light or a small flexible scope. Adenoids are made of similar tissue as tonsils, and they also trap bacteria and viruses and produce antibodies. The adenoids also reach full size by age 4, and tend to shrink after early childhood. In teenagers and adults, they can be nearly undetectable.

Both glands play an important role in infant and early childhood immunity, but become less critical as children grow and their bodies develop other successful tools to fight germs.

Mouth Breathing and Tonsils

Obstructed breathing and airways often cause people to breathe through the mouth instead of the nose. While this may seem like a minor issue, mouth breathing actually has a host of negative consequences on both dental and overall health.

In terms of the tonsils, mouth-breathing increases the turbulence of breath going directly into the throat. This dries out the tonsils, causing post-nasal mucus drip and exacerbating allergic reactions. It can cause chronic inflammation of the tonsils, which enlarges the glands and interferes further with breathing because of the obstruction they cause in the throat.

In other words, enlarged tonsils are both a symptom and a cause of airway obstruction. They both indicate and contribute to impaired breathing while sleeping, which can cause a host of unwelcome symptoms. From a dental perspective, these issues include cavities, teeth grinding, malocclusion, periodontal disease, TMJ problems and more. Other health issues that can result include headaches, snoring, obesity, ADHD, asthma, sleep apnea, and more.

Thorough Dental Exams at Eggert Family Dentistry

Here at Eggert Family Dentistry, Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff conduct thorough exams that include looking at your soft tissues like your tonsils. We recognize the critical role of respiration in your overall health and your dental health. If you think you or your child may have airway issues, or if you or your child has chronic issues with tonsils or adenoids, please share that information with Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff so we can help identify the problem and come up with a solution to support improved health, immunity and vitality for you or your child. Just contact us or schedule an appointment at 651.482.8412 today!

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Sleep Apnea and Oral Health Share A Few Primary Connections

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a condition that must be taken seriously. Obstructive sleep apnea is an airway blockage that occurs when, during sleep, muscles in the back of the throat relax and/or the tongue and surrounding tissues migrate back into the throat, obstructing the airway.

Not only can sleep apnea cause fatigue, headaches and memory loss but it can also lead to even more serious health issues such as hypertension, heart failure and stroke.

Many people don’t understand what causes sleep apnea and how it affects oral health. We’re going to take a few minutes to unpack some of these connections.

Risk factors for sleep apnea

When you come in for an appointment, we look for signs or symptoms that could be considered “red flags” for airway conditions, including sleep apnea. Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff perform an assessment to see if you have any of the following risk factors among many others:

  • Over 40 years of age
  • Obesity
  • Large tongue or tonsils
  • A large neck
  • A small jaw

If we think you might be dealing with an airway issue like sleep apnea, we’ll ask you if your loved ones complain that you snore or gasp for air when you sleep. We’ll ask you if you deal with insomnia or daytime drowsiness. Do you wake up with a headache or a dry mouth? Do you have nasal or sinus problems?

We will also look for signs of TMD, bruxism or dry mouth, all of which can be connected to OSA.

TMD goes hand in hand with sleep apnea

Did you know that, in 52% of obstructive sleep apnea cases, a person also struggles with temporomandibular disorder or TMD?

TMD occurs when the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) doesn’t function properly. When the joint is irritated, chewing and talking can be mildly to moderately painful.

So why do sleep apnea and TMD often occur together? When a person is deprived of oxygen during sleep, their body will compensate in unconscious ways. In many cases, their jaw muscles clench and release or grind the jaw around to gain more airway space. When sleep apnea is left untreated, this jaw motion becomes habitual and can cause TMD or even deterioration of the jaw joint itself.

Bruxism goes hand in hand with sleep apnea

Bruxism is another condition that is often present alongside obstructive sleep apnea. Often intertwined with TMD, bruxism describes a condition caused by the clenching or grinding of teeth. It occurs unconsciously during sleep and can be another way a person’s body compensates for an airway obstruction.

Symptoms of bruxism include broken, cracked, chipped or worn teeth. Because the clenching and grinding of teeth cause tension in a person’s head, jaw and muscle discomfort are commonly present.

Of the 31% of adults who deal with bruxism, at least 25% of them also battle OSA.

Sleep apnea leads to mouth breathing

As we already stated, sleep apnea is an airway obstruction often caused by soft tissues that move towards the back of the mouth during sleep. In addition to clenching and contracting your jaw muscles in response, a person will typically also mouth breathe in an attempt to get more oxygen.

Mouth breathing leads to snoring but it also leads to other, more serious oral consequences.

Saliva plays an important role in rinsing food and harmful bacteria out of our mouths. When a person breathes through their mouth, it becomes dry and becomes a haven for food particles and bacteria. Without this natural “rinsing” function, plaque easily grows under the gumline and can cause tooth decay, gingivitis and in extreme cases, periodontal disease.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of sleep apnea or related conditions, Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff would love to see you in our office. They can evaluate your situation, determine which factors are present and, if they see evidence of sleep apnea, refer you to your primary doctor who may refer you to an ENT or sleep specialist. Then Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff will partner with these specialists to determine the best courses of action to help alleviate sleep apnea and any peripheral issues and restore your health. Schedule your appointment by calling our office at 651.482.8412!

How Are TMJ Disorders Diagnosed?

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

In our previous blog, we took the time to clear up confusion over the two terms, TMJ and TMD. Now we’re going to dive into TMD, or temporomandibular disorder, and how it is diagnosed.

When a you come into Eggert Family Dentistry and are complaining of jaw discomfort, Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff will ask you several questions and perform an oral evaluation—this is all part of our records process and often part of our new patient experience. Here are some of the most common TMD symptoms that drive people into our office:

  • Pain when opening or closing the mouth
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Jaw becomes stuck open or shut
  • Headaches, migraines, ear pain, ringing in the ears, double vision
  • Clicking or popping sounds when opening the mouth
  • Teeth grinding
  • Wearing down or breaking of the teeth

After our thorough evaluation, if we determine that you are dealing with TMD, we will find the treatment or combination of treatments that are right for you. This may mean splint therapy, exploration into sleep and airway, changing the bite, or seeking out consultations with the right medical physicians. Jaw discomfort can be associated with other health issues and we want to make sure to help you get to the root of the problem.

You don’t have to live with the discomfort of TMD. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, contact the professionals at Eggert Family Dentistry. Dr. Elizabeth Eggert and Dr. Jeff Eggert have vast experience diagnosing and treating this jaw disorder and can be reached at 651.482.8412. Remember Eggert Family Dentistry for all of your dental needs!

What’s the Difference Between TMD and TMJ?

By Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Our upper and lower jaw bones help our bodies perform many important functions. They help us speak, chew, and yawn. Consequently, our quality of life is directly impacted when our jaw is even slightly irritated or inflamed. When it comes to jaw disorders, there is often confusion between the terms TMJ and TMD. This post will help you decipher between these two terms.

What is TMJ?

TMJ refers to the temporomandibular joint itself, a joint that acts like a sliding hinge, connecting your jawbone to your skull. The lower jawbone (mandible) has two condyles that fit at the base of the skull. This joint can be found on both sides of your head, in front of each ear. The TMJ allows the jaw to open and close so you can speak, chew, and yawn. While many people claim to suffer from TMJ, this term actually refers to the joint as opposed to the joint disorder.

What is TMD?

TMD on the other hand, stands for temporomandibular disorder, a disorder of the temporomandibular joint. This joint is easily irritated by stress, jaw clenching, teeth grinding, and arthritis and is susceptible to misalignment, dislocation, or permanent changes as a result of crooked teeth or blunt trauma. Depending on the cause, discomfort can range from mild to severe. However, just because you’re not experiencing severe pain in your jaw doesn’t mean you should just “ride it out.” Ignoring even mild jaw discomfort can result in deterioration of the TMJ.

In our next post, we will cover the signs and symptoms of TMD and discuss how TMJ disorders are diagnosed. Stay tuned!

If you have any questions about TMD/TMJ or would like to schedule a recare visit with us, you can call our office today at 651.482.8412. Dr. Elizabeth, Dr. Jeff and our amazing team at Eggert Family Dentistry are here and ready to address all of your dental concerns and needs with our vast experience, the latest technology and all of the comforts to make each of your visits a great experience!

Vaping and Your Oral Health

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Vaping, or using e-cigarettes, is smoking a chemical vapor that delivers nicotine into your lungs. Often misconstrued as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes because there is no tobacco involved, vaping has devastating effects on a person’s oral and overall health. At Eggert Family Dentistry, we think it’s important to educate our patients about the many ways that vaping can affect oral health.

Dangerous ingredients

While vaping liquid doesn’t contain tobacco, it does contain numerous other ingredients that pose a threat to oral health:

Propylene glycol: Used as a carrier ingredient in e-liquid, propylene glycol is a slightly-sweet, colorless liquid that, when vaped, breaks down into acetic acid, lactic acid and propionaldehyde – all of which have toxic effects on soft tissue and enamel.

Nicotine: There are many side effects that can result from nicotine exposure, including reduced blood flow which can cause gum tissue to die. When this happens, gums recede and expose more of the tooth which leads to tooth sensitivity, an increase in cavities and in some cases, tooth loss.

Flavorings: In order to appeal to a wider audience, e-liquid often contains fruit, candy and other flavorings. These flavorings, when added to vegetable glycerin, cause a 27% decrease in the hardness and integrity of tooth enamel.

Oral health complications

Dry mouth: Nicotine in e-liquid inhibits saliva production which leads to dry mouth. When your mouth is dry, it’s a perfect habitat for bacteria which can lead to tooth decay.

Bruxism: Because nicotine is a muscle stimulant, it can cause clenching, gnashing and teeth grinding which, over time, results in wear to enamel and can lead to fractured teeth.

Gum disease: Exposure to nicotine-laden vape liquid can swell and inflame gums. When gums are irritated, your mouth is dry and there are more bacteria on the scene, gum disease easily sets in.

Damage to oral tissue: In rare cases, the lithium batteries in vaping devices overheat and explode, causing extreme damage to oral tissue – damage that can result in permanent disfigurement. There are even a couple documented cases of accidental death related to these explosions.

We want our patients to enjoy optimal dental health! If you have questions or concerns about the effects of vaping on your oral health or the oral health of a loved one, give Dr. Elizabeth Eggert or Dr. Jeff Eggert a call at 651.482.8412. We would be happy to speak with you!

 

Reasons We Might Refer You to or Collaborate with an ENT

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

There are certain situations at Eggert Family Dentistry when we need to collaborate with other physicians to provide the best possible care for our patients. Especially as we have worked to integrate more airway into our practice, many of you have been asked to seek out care with a board-certified ENT for a more integrated approach to dentistry.

In this article, we will provide information about how certain medical conditions may be linked to your airway and therefore situations where it may be best to collaborate with an ENT. We will also launch into more specific information about some of these conditions below.

  • Sleep – if you have trouble snoring, falling asleep, staying asleep, trouble with restless sleep, you wake up feeling unrefreshed, or issues with nighttime urination, these can all be linked to airway issues.
  • Other Health Conditions – ADHD, allergies, anxiety, birth defects, cardiovascular disease, chronic head and neck pain, chronic pain, daytime fatigue, depression, digestive issues, emotional problems, frequent colds, sinus problems, sore throats, or tonsillitis, grinding or clenching of teeth, headaches, high blood pressure, jaw locking, large tonsils or adenoids, memory loss, mouth breathing, neck aches, obesity, pain or clicking in jaw joint, previous orthodontics, PTSD, speech problems, sucking habits, tonsillectomy, adenoidectomy, or type II diabetes can all be linked to airway issues.
  • Dental Observations – there are many dental conditions that can be linked to poor airway flow as well such as crowded teeth, deep overbite, forward head position, head tilted back, mouth breathing, narrow dental arches, recessive lower jaw, scalloped tongue, tongue thrust, tongue tie or tooth wear.

Snoring and sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious condition that can lead to several other serious medical conditions. In cases where our patient is struggling with sleep apnea, Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff can often link what they see with the teeth, jaw, and muscles (like the tongue) to aid in determining the cause. Does our patient have inadequate space for the tongue based on the size of the jaw? Is the root of their condition the size or shape of their soft palate? How does the alignment of the teeth play in? Once this is determined, the best course of treatment is pursued. It is often helpful both during the diagnostic phase as well as during the treatment phase to collaborate with an ENT. This allows us to look at the situation from all facets and choose the best course of treatment.

Beyond sleep apnea itself, there are other sleep disordered breathing diagnoses or simply disordered breathing at all times, that can be detrimental to overall health. ENTs or other medical professionals can often help us navigate through treatment options.

Enlarged tonsils and adenoids

Enlarged tonsils and adenoids in children can cause facial and jaw deformities as a child grows. When Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff notice enlarged tonsils or adenoids and determine that the enlargement is not simply due to a virus, we will often refer our patient to an ENT for a consult.

Sinus problems

If a patient comes into our office with jaw pain, Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff evaluate many things, including the patient’s teeth and jaw. Because sinus problems can be a contributing factor to teeth and jaw discomfort, if their examination is inconclusive, Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff will refer our patient to an ENT for further evaluation.

In some cases, mucus can build up in the sinus cavity, causing sinusitis and leading to halitosis (bad breath). If halitosis is present (often in combination with jaw discomfort), this is another situation where Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff will most likely refer our patient to an ENT.

TMJ disorder

Another common cause of jaw pain is a disorder of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). At Eggert Family Dentistry, we most commonly treat TMD by providing our patient with a splint or night guard. In severe cases, full-mouth reconstruction may be necessary. However, if we are unable to make a dental determination for the jaw pain, we can refer our patient to an ENT for a CT scan or an MRI to rule out bone and joint issues.

At Eggert Family Dentistry, we go above and beyond to make sure each one of our patients receives superior care. This often means referring our patient to or collaborating with a board-certified ENT for further investigation. If you’d like to schedule an appointment with us, give us a call at 651.482.8412!

 

Occlusal Equilibration: Is it Right for You?

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

An improper bite – often the result of a misaligned upper and lower jaw – can lead to pain, joint problems and accelerated wear on the teeth. Fortunately, you don’t have to live with this condition. At Eggert Family Dentistry, Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff specialize in occlusal equilibration, a procedure that helps restore correct mouth structure and alleviates the irritating and painful symptoms associated with misaligned jaws.

What is occlusal equilibration?

Occlusal equilibration is the process of adjusting the biting surfaces of teeth in order to achieve the proper bite and the proper positioning of the jaws.

What should I look for?

If you’re experiencing any of these issues, you may benefit from occlusal equilibration:

The diagnostic process

If you’re concerned about jaw misalignment, you can schedule a diagnostic appointment, also known as the Records Process, with us. At this appointment, Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff will assess your mouth structure and will look at a 3D model of your teeth. After analyzing how your teeth move against each other, Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff determine if adjusting the biting surfaces of your teeth could help reposition your upper and lower jaws properly. A lot of times, equilibration won’t be recommended until after completing splint therapy.

Occlusal equilibration

If Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff determines that occlusal equilibration is right for you, you will come to a separate appointment for this procedure. During the procedure, Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff will gently reshape the biting surfaces of your teeth in a specific manner. The precise altering of the biting surfaces of your teeth will allow them to bite together properly and allow your jaw, muscles, and teeth to work in harmony.

The end result

Our patients are pleased with the results of an occlusal equilibration and often remark that they can feel the difference in their bite right away. It helps them feel more relaxed and like it is easier to chew.

If you think you may benefit from occlusal equilibration, you can schedule a consultation with us at Eggert Family Dentistry at 651.482.8412!

Pain When You Chew? It Could Be TMD

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

There are a variety of factors that can contribute to jaw discomfort. From chewing on hard foods to facial tension from stress, jaw discomfort is a miserable, often debilitating experience. While there can be many contributing factors, there are at least as many great treatments. At Eggert Family Dentistry, we have hands-on experience diagnosing and treating TMD, one of the most common jaw disorders. Understanding what TMD is as well as its symptoms is crucial to proper diagnosis and treatment.

What is TMD?

Although people often refer to this jaw disorder at TMJ, the correct reference is TMD. TMJ refers to the joint itself – the temporomandibular joint – which is responsible for controlling many jaw functions like chewing and talking. TMD is a disorder of this joint, a condition which can stem from a variety of behavioral, psychological and physical issues.

Causes

TMD has many possible causes some of which include stress, jaw clenching, teeth grinding, arthritis, jaw dislocation, injury to the jaw and poor jaw and tooth alignment. Teeth grinding is particularly problematic because it can lead to further problems, many tooth related. Prolonged grinding can cause enamel to wear off teeth and expose dentin, making teeth more susceptible to decay. It can also increase a person’s sensitivity to hot and cold.

Signs and Symptoms

There are many symptoms of TMD that mimic other medical issues. This can make TMD difficult to pinpoint. TMD symptoms include:

  • Pain when opening or closing the mouth
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Jaw becoming stuck open or shut
  • Headaches, migraines, ear pain, ringing in the ears, double vision
  • Clicking or popping sounds when opening the mouth
  • Teeth grinding
  • Wearing down or breaking of the teeth

Diagnosis

The above-listed symptoms can be attributed to a variety of health problems. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms it’s best to start by visiting a medical professional for a whole body physical to rule out possible medical conditions. Keep in mind, however, that many medical professionals don’t fully understand how TMD can be a large part of your issue because they haven’t always been trained to make that connection. Especially if there is no concrete medical diagnosis, it is best to make an appointment with Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff for a consultation. We can screen you for TMD with our comprehensive records process and offer relief for your symptoms through the treatment option that’s right for you!

Treatment

If, upon completion of your consult, we determine that you’re dealing with TMD, we have numerous avenues of treatment that can provide you with relief and alleviate your symptoms. Some common treatment options include:

  • A custom night guard/splint that can help lessen the effects of teeth grinding and deprogram muscle patterns
  • Behavioral treatments and muscle therapies that change the way you use your jaw and muscles
  • Full-time splint therapy to provide full-time relief
  • Appliances to improve your airway
  • Full-mouth reconstruction to improve tooth position
  • Orthodontic treatment that may or may not include oral jaw surgery

Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff will also talk with you about some easy ways you can partner with us to get to the root of your symptoms and experience relief. Ideas include practicing relaxation techniques to alleviate stress, avoiding chewing gum or nail-biting, eating softer foods and incorporating hot/cold compresses to the jaw.

At Eggert Family Dentistry, mouth comfort is one of our highest priorities. If you think you’re experiencing the uncomfortable effects of TMD, schedule an appointment with Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff by calling us at 651.482.8412!