I went to my dentist today, after a long time. I complained about a tooth. I asked whether the tooth is ok or whether I will need a crown (I don’t have any yet, thanks God!).
My dentist had a good look at my teeth and told me that the porcelain crowns are very hard and they don’t wear, while the opposing teeth do. If I would have only one crown, it would worsen my jaw alignment and put an extra wear on the other teeth. So he recommended keeping my teeth in good order as long as I can.
He also told me that my teeth are worn from grinding at night. I myself have also noticed a tension in my jaw during the day which is not easy to relax. Whenever I try to release it, it tends to come back again. (Quite annoying for a trained yoga teacher who believes that relaxation should be easy.)
For this reason he recommended splints to me.
There are two kinds of splints: one is generic (one-shape-fits-all) and the other is custom made.
The generic one simply prevents wear and tear on the teeth, but the misalignment remains. So does the tension and some other associated symptoms such as headaches.
It is obviously quite cheap to produce and it can wear within several weeks if the grinding is strong.
The custom made occlusal splint improves the alignment. It has to be made properly, though.
First a cast of teeth and gums is done. Then a splint is made based on precise measurements of the model.
This splint can last for years.
The causes of jaw tension (according to my dentist) are:
The lower jaw is like a suspended hammock, hanging on several muscles. There must be an equilibrium between those muscles for relaxation to happen.
The brain simply wants to close the teeth. However, since there is a misalignment, a signal is still coming into the brain that the teeth are not closed yet. It is a kind of positive feedback: the more tension there is around the jaw joint, the harder the brain tries to “close the mouth”.
The upper jaw can be misaligned in relation to the base of the skull, and the lower jaw can be misaligned as well, either tilting forward/ backward, or sideways, or both.
Most of people have some kind of misalignment somewhere. For someone it is the jaw, for someone it is the spine, somebody else may have one leg a bit shorter or a collapsed foot arch.
Any misalignment will place uneven strain on muscles and ligaments, which causes uneven wear on the joints and muscular tension. This leads to pain, joint degeneration and inflammation. Yoga or gentle exercise is a great way to manage this, and so does postural awareness.
Major misalignments have to be fixed surgically, though. I have met a young man recently with a strange contraption with screws on his lower leg. He told me he had one leg too short which caused him serious joint and spinal problems. The remedy was to shatter the bone and then gradually lengthen the leg as the bone repairs itself.
I believe our own imperfections are here to teach us acceptance, humility and compassion. Yes, we can choose the path of complaining or self pity instead. However, just by looking around, we can easily see where this path leads us.
Post by: Michal
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