When your upper and lower teeth don’t align properly, normal jaw motions can create tension in nearby joints and muscles. This is called malocclusion, or in casual parlance, a “bad bite,” and it is a common symptom of TMJ. It can result in tension, headaches, and jaw pain — but luckily, there are treatments to correct a bad bite, and resolve those symptoms!
Bite Splints Can Correct a Bad Bite
For most dentists, the first line of treatment for correcting a bad bite is a bite splint. This orthotic appliance is fitted over the upper or lower teeth to correct for the jaw’s positioning, essentially forcing the jaw into a position that puts less stress on the surrounding tissues.
Dr. Paul Hahn or Dr. Adam Hahn will take his time to ensure your bite splint is perfectly customized to your individual bite, making adjustments and waiting for your mouth to respond to the appliance before reevaluating and making further changes.
A bite splint is a conservative treatment — since it’s removable, it can be used short-term or long-term depending on the patient’s needs, and it’s an easily reversible treatment if it is determined that a different solution would be preferable.
Bite Splints: Treatment or Diagnostic Tool?
While some dentists view a bite splint as a treatment in itself, others see it as merely a diagnostic tool to facilitate more permanent bite corrections. Here at Smile Columbia, we think that answer is different for everyone.
Once a dentist is confident that their patient’s bite splint is well-fitted and has brought their bite into the correct position, for some patients that could be the best solution! There is nothing wrong with wearing a bite splint every day as a permanent treatment.
However, for some patients, wearing the bite splint all the time can be inconvenient. Some patients may find that they have a tendency to lose their bite splint, that they find cleaning it a nuisance, they might have difficulty speaking with it in, or that they just don’t like wearing it all the time. For those patients, more permanent solutions can be implemented, aided by the precise bite diagnosis that the bite splint has provided!
For example, our patient EK saw relief of her symptoms within a week of getting fitted for her bite splint, but found after a few months that she would rather have a full dental restoration than continue wearing her bite splint indefinitely. Through a combination of orthodontics and porcelain onlays, we were able to fully and permanently correct her bite, relieving her forever of the jaw pain and tension headaches that had plagued her for so long.
If you think a bad bite might be creating your painful symptoms, call (803) 781-9090 or contact Smile Columbia Dentistry online today to make an appointment with TMJ dentists Dr. Paul Hahn and Dr. Adam Hahn. Whether a bite splint is the answer or just the first step, we would love to help you take the pain out of your bite!