Have you ever driven behind another vehicle and noticed a rear tire that was obviously out of alignment? Without all four tires in proper balance, we know the driver will likely be looking at replacing tires worn from the imbalance. Had standard measures of periodic tire rotation and balancing occurred, the cost to replace abnormally worn tires may have been avoided.
The same problem can occur with teeth. Although an individual may not sense their upper and lower teeth are out of alignment, signs eventually emerge. This is commonly seen when the tops of teeth become worn down. Often, this occurs from night-time grinding during sleep with most people having no idea it is taking place.
Worn teeth can be seen when their tops are smooth rather than having the natural contours typical of tooth shapes. Teeth that are worn are typically shorter than they should be as well.
What causes this?
When upper and lower teeth do not meet properly, the jaws attempt to self-adjust during sleep in an effort to alleviate stress or strain to the TMJ (‘temporo-mandibular joints’ or jaw joints). In the process, the action tends to transfer one problem to another. As the jaws shift during sleep, the teeth clamp together, triggering a grinding motion.
When teeth grind back and forth, the action can wear down tooth enamel, making them vulnerable to decay and sensitivity. Grinding and clenching can also lead to frequent headaches, migraines, sore jaw joints, dizziness, ear ringing, and limited ability to open the mouth.
Teeth that are misaligned are also more susceptible to cracks, breaks and chips. When these problems occur, costly repairs are often needed. If a tooth breaks below the gum line, however, it will likely require removal. Losing a natural tooth leaves the patient with an entirely new set of decisions and associated costs.
During your regular checkups, your bite position is checked and any signs of abnormal wear will be pointed out. Once the problem is found, treatment to correct the problem will be recommended. We’ll also discuss the best way to repair any damage that has occurred.
To determine the precise cause for misalignment, we may advise diagnostics for the TMJ. This process determines if your TMJ is the actual source of your problems. If so, a treatment plan is devised to help restore your bite to proper alignment without over-treating or under-treating.
In some cases, misalignment can be easily corrected by reshaping selected teeth. If more extensive reshaping is needed, crowns may be necessary. In situations where misalignment is more severe, orthodontic realignment may be needed to fully restore harmony of upper and lower teeth.
When realignment is necessary, Invisalign may be an option. This is especially appealing for those who prefer to avoid the brackets and wires of traditional braces. Invisalign uses clear molds to move teeth that are generally undetectable when worn. They can also be removed for eating and brushing.
Worn teeth are an indication of a larger problem. As a Neuro-Muscular Dentist, I know that the problem will only worsen without treatment. Resolving it early can save greatly in treatment time and expense.
Begin by calling toll free 1-866-9-Smiles to schedule a free, no obligation consultation. During this time, we’ll discuss options that are appropriate for your needs so you can determine the best way to proceed.