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Jaw problems can arise for a variety of reasons and impact your smile. At McAllister Dentistry in Hickory, North Carolina, Dr. John McAllister and our team offer occlusion services to help patients experiencing headaches and jaw aches due to temporomandibular joint disorders, unequal jaw growth, and other bite irregularities.

To understand why jaw problems can arise, it helps to understand how the masticatory system works. Your smile is made of various parts working together, the teeth, gums, jaw and its joints, and the muscles working harmoniously together to help you smile, speak and chew. If any part of this system is off, you may experience headaches, jaw aches, painful teeth, and bite issues.

Your mandible has a front end and a back end, with the teeth attached to the front. The jaw connects at the teeth and the jaw joints. Because of this connection, the teeth are essentially part of the mandibular joint system (the back end of the mandible). The lower front teeth are part of the mandible which can’t move without moving the lower arch of teeth which affects how the teeth come together. Combined, the mandible, the front teeth, and the TMJ impact how the neuromuscular system works.

What does this mean for your smile? It means that any disharmony in the muscles (muscle malocclusion) at one end can cause problems at the other end. In fact, muscle malocclusion can cause the following:

— Occlusal wear: when the back teeth show signs of wear and tear, you may grind and clench your teeth (bruxism) because your bite is off, resulting in occlusion muscle pain to the front and back of your jaw.

Sore teeth: when the bite is “off” your teeth may hurt.

— Loose teeth: your teeth can loosen because the bite is off, as they don’t meet properly when you bite down.

— Pain: occlusal muscle pain happens because the jaws aren’t meeting properly. Recognizing the cause allows us to correctly diagnose the treatment and relieve the pain.

— Fractured teeth: A fracture can occur in a tooth or dental restoration if the bite is off.

Awareness of how the jaw impacts your smile can help us effectively treat and even avoid these problems. Dr. McAllister and our team have helped many patients overcome dental problems due to malocclusion, including TMJ and improved denture fit.

If you would like to consult with Dr. McAllister for problems you may be experiencing with your smile, please call 828-322-6731 today. We look forward to helping you have a balanced, healthy, pain-free smile!

Note: We would like to thank Dr. Peter Dawson for the information contained in this blog article, as well as his influential teachings in dentistry, including his best-selling dental text, Evaluation, Diagnosis and Treatment of Occlusal Problemsas well as Functional Occlusion: From TMJ to Smile Design.