Orthopedic Dentistry: Maintaining Balance & Function
Proper chewing function. “Chewing is the primary function of dentistry,” says Dr. Pete. Our jaw joints and teeth are a mechanism designed to withstand the force of chewing over many years. When balanced, this mechanism allows us to chew correctly.
Consider that our chewing muscles are the most powerful in the human body. Our back teeth must withstand the force of up to 100 pounds of pressure per square inch. That’s why teeth should come together smoothly while chewing, like a plane gliding onto an airstrip. If the airstrip isn’t smooth, the plane’s landing won’t be either.
When jaw joints are misaligned, the force of chewing is misdirected and can result in seemingly inexplicable dental and health problems. An Orthopedic Dental approach allows many of these problems to be treated and prevented.
What Can Happen When the Chewing Mechanism is Imbalanced
Dental work and natural teeth can wear down prematurely when your bite isn’t aligned with your jaw joints. Often the source of a patient’s unwanted dental condition is an imbalance in the way the teeth come together. An imbalance reveals itself by examining the bite pattern of the teeth which can be uneven without the patient experiencing pain. Dr. Pete’s proprietary diagnostics (called “The Workup”) will reveal such an imbalance and the patient will see for himself/herself the effect this is having on their dental condition.
Correcting an imbalance is important because any major dental work done with this condition present will likely not last like as long as it should. The new dental work will suffer the same fate as the patient’s original teeth unless the condition is corrected.
Another way to visualize how an imbalance affects the head, neck, jaw and teeth is to imagine walking a long distance with a pebble in your left shoe. The joints of your right ankle, knee and hip will compensate and over time may suffer chronic pain. Your spine may possibly be affected, thus causing pain in your back or neck or even a headache.
When it comes to the chewing mechanism which consists of your jaw joints and teeth, years of imbalanced chewing leads to unwanted dental conditions. Telltale signs of imbalance can include:
- Uneven wearing of teeth
- Needing root canals on one side of the mouth
- Popping or clicking sounds when you chew
- Head, neck or back pain
- Dental work that doesn’t last
- Digestive Disturbances
Orthopedic Dentistry ensures that function is built into your dental work so that it accommodates the various movements of chewing. That way, your dental work can last like it should.
Treating and preventing imbalance. Perhaps you know someone whose headaches began after teeth straightening. Sometimes braces move the teeth into a position that causes the jaw joints to shift out of place. This can lead to pain such as headaches. Teeth can also shift back to where they were before orthodontics, due to an imbalanced jaw joint position that was overlooked at the start of treatment. Orthopedic Dentistry honors the integrity of jaw joint position in all dental treatment. This is why Dr Pete’s diagnostics for larger treatment program are so comprehensive and necessitate a complete set of diagnostics called “The Workup.” This allows your treatment plan to be based on an understanding of the relationship of the jaw joints, teeth and jaw.
Accidents or habits like nail biting can also cause jaw joint imbalances. New patients are often surprised when Dr Pete seems to know right away about their health conditions or habits. By understanding the interrelationship of the patient’s jaw joints, teeth and jaw it can be obvious that an imbalance exists.
Whether your treatment program involves most of your teeth or just a few, Dr. Pete’s orthopedic approach honors the importance of correct alignment of your jaw joints with the teeth. In addition to helping your dental work endure, this allows proper chewing function which affects your overall health.
How Orthopedic Dentistry Became an Integral Approach to Dr. Pete’s Treatment.
In the 1980s, Dr. Pete began applying the principles of orthopedic balance to dental treatment. He served as President of the Dento-Facial Orthopedic Study Club of Missouri and was a founding member of the Functional Jaw Orthopedics Study Club. Thanks to the many experts around the country with whom he studied, he’s been able to help countless patients alleviate TMJ symptoms. Along with aesthetics, dental treatment should provide optimal chewing function. These orthopedic principles help ensure this outcome.
How Orthopedic Dentistry Integrates With Cosmetic and Restorative Dentistry
For Cosmetic and Restorative Dental work to endure the force of chewing over time, it depends upon a bite that is functioning optimally. Whether getting braces or a full mouth restoration, you want your dental work to be done on a balanced foundation.
After dental work. Your bite may feel fine after a new filling or crown, only to get home and realize it’s slightly “off.” As living breathing creatures, what may have felt natural lying in the dental chair can feel different when you start chewing with the new dental work. Always let us know if your bite doesn’t feel right after any treatment so Doc can make an adjustment.