What is Occlusion?
Occlusion is the branch of Dentistry that deals with the relationship between jaws and teeth, as well as their implications on the attached structures. In addition to how teeth relate to each other, this area is also directed toward temporomandibular dysfunction and orofacial pain.
Temporomandibular dysfunction (TMD) is defined as a musculoskeletal disorder involving the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), chewing muscles and attached structures.
It is usually associated with behaviors such as bruxism or pathologies such as depression, irritable bowel syndrome, systemic joint pathologies and sleep disorders.
Signs and symptoms
The most frequent signs and symptoms in patients with Temporomandibular Dysfunction are:
- Joint clicks;
- Jaw pain;
- Pain in face and neck muscles;
- Tooth wear;
- Difficulty opening the mouth;
- Difficulty closing the mouth;
- Tinnitus (ringing);
- Ear fullness (feeling of a blocked ear).
The therapeutic approach, often multidisciplinary, goes through an individualized follow-up, adapted to each patient, and is done using:
- Drug therapy;
- Behavioural therapy;
- Occlusal guard;
- Viscosupplementation with hyaluronic acid;
- Application of botulinum toxin.
After the anamnesis, the diagnosis is made in the occlusion consultation through a clinical evaluation of the oral cavity, face and neck muscles, and temporomandibular joint.
If indicated, the evaluation is complemented with diagnostic aids such as X-rays, MRI, and polysomnography.
In addition to the therapeutic approach in a dentist appointment, the patient’s follow-up may involve a multidisciplinary team.
After the appropriate treatment plan is applied and the condition that brought the patient to this appointment is stabilized, control/reassessment appointments take place.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can holding my teeth together give me headaches?
Yes, it might!
Can stress and anxiety affect my teeth?
Bruxism, the behavior of leaning, clenching, grinding the teeth, or holding the jaw in the same position, may be associated with our nervous system. This behaviour can cause tooth wear.
Does bruxism only wear down the teeth?
No. Although the signs and symptoms vary from individual to individual, the most frequent besides tooth wear are: gum recession, marking of the teeth on the tongue and cheek mucosa (inner part of the cheek), muscle and joint pain.
Can ear pain not be related to the ears?
Yes, muscle and joint pain can often mimic ear pain, due to their anatomical proximity. Toothache can also be mistaken with another type of pain, hence the importance of an accurate diagnosis.
How long do i have to use a mouth guard?
It depends on the person. The use of a mouth guard is a way to control the harmful effects that bruxism brings. The frequency of use of this device has to be evaluated taking into consideration the severity of this behaviour.
My tmj makes noises when i open and close my mouth. Do i need surgery?
No. In most cases, the different types of joint noises can be fixed in what refers to pain and mandibular movements, and do not limit the patient’s quality of life.
Can bruxism be related to obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (osas)?
Yes, it may be related. In certain cases of OSAS, the effects of bruxism can be controlled through a Mandibular Advancement Device. This requires a correct sleep evaluation through a polysomnography (sleep examination).
Is it possible to control my ronchopathy (snoring) in a dental appointment?
Yes, it is possible. Mandibular Advancement Devices can have great results in such cases, depending on the severity of the snoring disorder and the existence of OSAS.
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Our patients are very important to us and we always do what we can to help them have a better quality of life and a smile that promotes their well-being.