One of the driving forces of the work we do is to help people with chronic pain. Lynn herself suffered from chronic pain, and she and Ed have devoted much of their studies to the subject. We both know that when approached in a holistic manner, dentistry and orthodontics can help relieve chronic pain permanently in many cases.
That leads us to restorative occlusion and its importance for people suffering from chronic pain. What is restorative occlusion? Well, “occlusion” is just another term for the bite, or the way the top and lower teeth fit together. Restorative means putting things back to the way they were or the way they were meant to be. Together, “restorative occlusion” means taking steps to get the bite into alignment and making sure the top and bottom teeth fit together properly.
It’s easy to see how this would lead to a more attractive smile, and even a healthier mouth. But how is it related to chronic pain?
“But That’s Not Where It Hurts!”
Simply put, when there’s dysfunction in the body, it creates opportunity for chronic pain to emerge. Often, the pain manifests somewhere other than where it originates – meaning that maybe your knee hurts, but you need to address it in your back to fix it. This is due to the complex and interconnected nature of the body, specifically the neuromuscular system.
This happens a lot with the jaw. When the jaw joint, or temporomandibular joint (TMJ), doesn’t work the way it should, pain can emerge in the jaw itself or in the face, head, ears, neck, shoulders, back, and beyond. A patient with disorder of the TMJ (also known as TMD) may not even feel pain in the jaw at all, despite that being the root of the problem.
Fix the Bite to Fix the Jaw to Fix the Pain
One of the most common causes of TMD is a bad bite. Because the upper and lower teeth don’t fit together properly, the jaw joint doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to. This puts strain on the TMJ, and that strain can lead to pain in other areas of the body, as discussed above.
Now you see exactly how and why restorative occlusion is so important in cases like this. By treating the bite and bringing the teeth into alignment, we can get the TMJ functioning properly again. When the TMJ works the way it’s supposed to, it doesn’t cause pain – in the jaw, or anywhere else.
Do You Suffer from Chronic Pain?
It’s unclear how many Americans suffer from chronic pain, but the CDC estimates around 20% – that’s 1 in 5 people living with unending pain. We find this number unacceptable. If you’re suffering chronic pain, we encourage you to be proactive to find long-term relief and regain your quality of life. If you’re in the Chicago area, we’d love to see you at one of our clinics and help get to the source of the pain.