When we last looked at Ruth Ann, we discovered what she had been doing with her mouth and teeth for many years. The downward spiral to headaches and jaw pain didn’t just start overnight. She noticed that her facial muscles were constantly in tension with wrinkles appearing seemingly out of nowhere around the corners of her mouth, corners of her eyes and her head just continued to hurt. Months of physical therapy gave her some welcome relief but the relief time got shorter and shorter.
The tension in the muscles was caused by pulling her jaw joints forward in their sockets and holding them there with her muscles. Those small, delicate facial muscles were constantly in tension, being over worked all the time. Using her orthotic full time, the muscles became relaxed, the tension was relieved and she very quickly found out that she was clenching and grinding on her teeth trying to find a place to put her teeth where the pain might be relieved.
There is a direct correlation between the health of the jaw joints and the way that the teeth come together. The key to stabilizing the joint and relaxing these inflamed muscles is to separate the teeth and allow the joints to center themselves in the sockets in a stable position. This jaw joint (the TMJ – temporomandibular joint) is the only compound joint in our bodies. It has to hinge open, but also has to slide forward controlled by a group of muscles. That allows us to open wide for an apple or a sandwich.
- The muscles become sore and tender
- The teeth become shorter and worn
- The tops of the jaw joints change shape causing degeneration of the joint
Finding stability with the orthotic is quick. Once we have achieved that stability, we can make the proper diagnosis and develop a plan that will move someone back toward bite health.
Ruth Ann had worn off about 1/3 of her tooth length over the years, had lost some teeth and had them replaced, and had done everything that she could to maintain her mouth in the best health possible. Unfortunately the system was overwhelmed and could no longer stabilize itself. The orthotic allowed her system to heal and gave us the information that we needed to restore her mouth to what it was originally intended to be.
“For many people, dentistry is about the mechanics – have decay – place a filling. Break a tooth – place a crown. Extract a tooth – its only one, I’ll let it go. I can get by. This is DISEASE MANAGEMENT. As a physician of the mouth, I cannot take your disease away from you. I can, however, show you a way that you can have NO gum disease and NO decay, AND have a stable chewing system that will serve you for life.”
Using minimally invasive techniques, we were able to determine the exact length of her teeth so that they fit her face and rejuvenate the mouth properly. Using composite resin and over-molding the front teeth, we created a beautiful smile that functioned properly and was very easy to maintain.
Dr. Robin P. Steely, DDS, provides exceptional services for Battle Creek, Kalamazoo and surrounding Southwest Michigan communities. Dr. Steely’s passion is Oral Fitness Coaching – partnering with people who wish to transform the quality of their lives and pursue a lifetime of health and wellness.