A local woman, we’ll call her EK, came into our office complaining of many symptoms: she had tension in her head, headaches , and jaw pain. This had been going on for years and she had already gone to another dentist, whose treatment made her condition worse.

But using a removable orthotic we were able to relieve her symptoms in a week, then give her a permanent bite reconstruction that gives her a comfortable, relaxed bite without having the wear the orthotic.

Failed Orthodontic Treatment

A local dentist had previously attempted to treat her TMJ using Invisalign. Invisalign is a fine orthodontic treatment for many purposes–we use it ourselves in our office–but it’s not really a good tool suited for making complex bite adjustments.

When Invisalign failed to bring her bite together, the dentist attempted to grind her teeth down to make them fit, but the problem wasn’t that her teeth were too tall, it’s that they were too short, which is why biting put stress on her temporomandibular joints. As a result, when she came to our office, she couldn’t get her back teeth together, and her symptoms were worse than ever.

Diagnosis and Relief

Because of her previous experience, EK was understandably leery of having too much done right away, so we started cautiously. Using the K-7 Computer and the TENS unit, we determined the proper position for her jaw and had an orthotic made. The orthotic is also called a bite splint, it’s something like a mouthguard that you can put it and take out according to your need.

Within a week of starting the bite splint, EK’s symptoms resolved.

Permanent Relief

Many people get good enough relief with the bite splint that they don’t want to proceed with the final step of getting a permanent bite change, but after three months of using the appliance, EK decided that she wanted to be able to feel comfortable all the time and not worry about whether she was wearing her appliance or not. So we designed a full mouth reconstruction.

We proposed several options for getting an ideal bite, and she chose a combination of orthodontics and porcelain onlays on her back bottom teeth.
First, orthodontics were used on her upper teeth to widen her smile to provide better support and straighten her teeth. Orthodontics on the lower teeth were largely cosmetic, but when all orthodontics were completed at about 9 months, we prepared onlays for some of her teeth.

We placed the porcelain onlays and waited for about 3 months to ensure they were seated properly and resulting in the kind of bite changes we were looking for. We then removed the orthodontics and gave her retainers.

It took a year and a half, but the results are excellent. EK has a beautiful, attractive, and functional smile.

Want to hear more success stories and see if they show how we can help you? Please call (803) 781-9090 for an appointment with a Columbia TMJ dentist at Smile Columbia Dentistry.