I’m not sure what the problem is. When I smile, I have to force my jaw together, otherwise you can’t see my upper teeth. My teeth don’t touch when in a resting position, either. When it’s cold, my jaw is so tense it’s difficult to speak. I have trouble with certain words and sounds. However, I wear an orthotic device at night because I grind my teeth, and it makes my jaw feel supported and comfortable. Is the problem with my teeth, or my jaw? What are my options?
Blair, from Salem, MA
Excessive teeth grinding can wear down your teeth, making them overclosed. That, coupled with your jaw pain and tightness sounds like TMJ disorder, a problem with the temporomandibular joint in your jaw. Wearing a night guard alleviates the pain, but getting porcelain veneers to fix your ground-down teeth will exacerbate it.
Unfortunately, the solution to your jaw woes may include a full mouth reconstruction, depending on what your dentist thinks is best. Check the qualifications of your potential dentist, and only go see a dentist who has had extensive post graduate training in occlusion. One such place is the Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies, which Dr. Rota attended. The scope and scale of your problem goes above the skill of your local family dentist — you’ll need an experienced cosmetic dentist.
This blog post is brought to you by Colorado Springs TMJ dentist, Dr. Joseph Rota, of Rota Advanced Dental Care.