The way that our teeth meet and slide against each other is like a suit that fits its owner rather than the owner having to fit the suit.
A lot of patients have small errors in their bite which make them put their teeth together in a position of comfort rather than the right position. These tiny interferences have precisely the same effect as a nail protruding from a shoe. Instead of limping, patients jaw muscles are left to take up the strain of keeping their jaw in a comfortable position and it is usually in these muscles that the pain begins simply because the muscles can never relax.Some muscles close the jaw, other open it, move it back or forwards and another group allows for sideways jaw movement. Neck, back and shoulder muscles also contribute as bracing muscles which allow our jaws to move smoothly and efficiently.
If a patient's teeth don't fit and slide together in harmony, one or more of these muscle groups may begin to suffer from fatigue. This may be felt as headaches, eye pain, shoulder pain – or pain from any of the muscle groups described above. Stress levels are known to make matters worse. Patient's under pressure at work, at home or in their personal lives are more likely to suffer from these problems as are those who have recently changed job, had a death in the family, moved house, divorced or been put into a job that they cannot cope with. We also know that each individual can cope with some bite errors without getting symptoms at all. These patients are living within their own limitations without problems. Adding a certain amount of stress to those patients lives, damaging any of the supporting muscles as in a car accident or adding new errors such as a dental crown which does not fit properly, can push these patients from having no problems at all to having lots of problems.
Sometimes it is a partner who knows that something is wrong. Many spouses can hear their partner grinding their teeth all night long. The patient only knows that they do not wake refreshed. What is going on here is that even when we are asleep our brain is trying to position our jaw into a comfortable position. The problem here is that this comfortable position cannot be maintained – so the jaws grind against each other in a never ending search for a good night's sleep for their owner.
Every patient is different.
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