What constitutes a balanced bite?
A balanced bite exists when the teeth, the temperomandibular joint (TMJ) and all associated muscles and ligaments are always working together, never in opposition.
What is occlusal equilibration?
Dr. Kahn believes that for most people, two jaw positions can exist: one determined by teeth and one determined by the TMJ. In a perfect bite, the position determined by the teeth and the position determined by the TMJ are the same position. Occlusal equilibration is a conservative procedure that harmonizes the forces of the bite and allows the teeth to come together at the position determined by the TMJ, and not the other way around.
Why should my teeth come together at the position determined by my TMJ?
The TMJ is a joint where bones, muscles, ligaments and cartilage work together to provide normal, healthy function. The TMJ is essentially a sliding hinge that allows you to move your lower jaw up, down, forward, back and side to side. When your mouth is closed with the TMJ oriented in the proper position, muscle fibers attached to your jaw bone can relax. When the bite comes together in a way that prevents the TMJ from being oriented in its proper position, muscle fibers attached to your jaw bone remain tensed and never fully relaxed. This can lead to a wide range of issues.
What happens when my TMJ muscles can’t relax?
When your joint muscles are constantly tensed, extra forces are put on the structures of the TMJ system. Structures under excessive forces are stressed and strained, and if allowed to progress, will start to break down and become symptomatic.
How do I know if my bite is unbalanced?
Certain signs for a patient that their bite is unbalanced include any of the following:
- muscle pain in your face, head and/or neck
- TMJ clicks
- Nighttime grinding
- Sensitive teeth
- Broken, fractured, thinned and chipped teeth
- Gum inflammation and recession
- Shifting teeth.
Additional signs can be present that may not be perceptible to the patient. These signs can be identified by a dentist in a proper, comprehensive exam.