By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert
According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, as many as 12 million U.S. adults suffer from pain in the Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ), a disorder known as TMD (Temporomandibular Joint Disorder).
If you suffer from TMJ dysfunction, you know how painful it can be. When your jaw is misaligned, it can cause agonizing joint problems as well as increased wear on your teeth.
Jaw pain caused by TMD is often solved using devices like splints and mouthguards, or even surgery. But if you have jaw pain related to TMD, there’s another solution that could help: occlusal equilibration.
Read on to learn more about this procedure and how occlusal equilibration helps jaw pain and misalignment.
Is Your Jaw Pain Caused by Jaw Misalignment?
Jaw pain can be caused by a number of factors. Some of the most common causes include: decayed or abscessed teeth, gum infection, migraines, sinus or ear infections, heart disease, bruxism (teeth grinding), and TMD.
The treatment for your jaw pain will depend on what is causing it. If your jaw pain is caused by jaw misalignment or TMD, occlusal equilibration could help relieve it.
But how do you know if your TMJ is causing your TMD and jaw pain?
The simple answer, of course, is to visit Dr. Elizabeth Eggert or Dr. Jeff Eggert to determine the cause of your jaw pain. But if you are experiencing the following symptoms, TMD may be at the root of your pain:
- Discomfort when chewing
- Teeth grinding
- Locking or clicking jaw
- Chipped or broken teeth
- Receding gums
- Loose teeth
- Stiffness in the jaw or neck
What Is Occlusal Equilibration?
Occlusal equilibration is the process of subtly and precisely reshaping the biting surfaces of your teeth to correct the alignment of your bite and positioning of your jaws.
A well-aligned jaw allows your upper and lower teeth to fit together properly when you bite down. But when your jaw is misaligned, your bite becomes uneven, putting stress on individual teeth as well as the jaw joint and especially the surrounding muscles. When the misalignment is corrected with occlusal equilibration, those muscles relax, reducing or eliminating pain and sensitivity.
This procedure is generally pain-free, and doesn’t require anesthesia. It’s quick and affordable, and the adjustments are generally so slight that they don’t change the appearance of your teeth.
How Occlusal Equilibration Helps Jaw Pain and TMJ
When something keeps your bite from being evenly distributed throughout your mouth (tooth loss, clenching, grinding, and so on), it can cause occlusal trauma.
This can manifest as worn or chipped teeth, sensitive areas on the teeth, gum recession, headaches, or a “popping” sound when you open and close your mouth. In addition, an uneven bite places pressure on teeth and this can accelerate periodontal disease including bone loss and loosening of teeth.
Occlusal equilibration redistributes that pressure so your bite is even, eliminating spots of excess pressure and allowing the bones and ligaments to heal.
During this procedure, Dr. Elizabeth Eggert or Dr. Jeff Eggert will note all of the areas where your teeth don’t align properly, then re-shape and adjust on the teeth using the dental handpiece. This restores your correct mouth structure and alleviates pain caused by misaligned jaws.
Many of our patients who have had occlusal equilibration have seen results quickly, saying they can feel the difference in their bite within even minutes of the procedure.
Determining if Occlusal Equilibration Is Right for You
At Eggert Family Dentistry, Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff both love helping their patients who would benefit from occlusal equilibration and they can help you determine if this treatment is right for you.
The first step is to schedule a diagnostic appointment, where Dr. Elizabeth Eggert or Dr. Jeff Eggert will assess your mouth’s structure and analyze how your teeth move against one another. This will allow them to determine if adjusting the biting surfaces of your teeth could help reposition your jaws properly. If they determine occlusal equilibration is right for you, our office will help you schedule a separate appointment for the procedure.
Ready to find out if occlusal equilibration could help your jaw pain? Contact us to schedule your diagnostic appointment.