Dear Dr. Crapo: I’m fifty-seven as of last week. I have a very demanding job and with four businesses on the go, I often wakeup with sore jaws, sore teeth and a headache. The demand on my time is 24/7. These businesses are family owned and operated, so I feel the need to be there. That said I decided to see my dentist, he said he could give me a bite guard that might help. I thanked him, but thought is there something I’m not understanding, so I saw someone else who deals with headaches and complex problems like mine. He did a thorough work-up and then told me that yes my stress was certainly part of the problem and yes a night guard might help, but he also said I had a bad bite – which I already knew – but he said I needed front teeth to meet and do their job. My front teeth have been crowded since they came in, so finding that out was just another reason why I hate my teeth. I asked him what to do and he said I needed braces, but he said he didn’t know if braces would do the whole trick because my back teeth were longer than the front teeth, so he didn’t know if the front teeth could be made to function as they should without surgery. When he explained the surgery, I thought no I’m not going down that road. I think he might be on to something but I need more answers.
There are many variables here. Braces at fifty-seven can work for straightening the teeth but may not lengthen your front teeth to help with your grinding problem. Surgery is the suggestion given when you have an open anterior bite.
If you go that route it will still be necessary to have an excellent form of permanent retention, to keep the teeth from relapsing.
If you have good lip coverage of your teeth, so that you don’t show all of your teeth plus a lot of gum (horsey smile), lengthening your teeth can be done with crowns if the crowding is not severe. This will produce (and I can’t emphasize this enough), a stable bite that gets the grinding off the back teeth. This treatment does not need retention because the roots of the teeth have not been moved as they would have been with braces.
Lastly, a very good bite splint system (like a bite guard) could do the trick if it prevents posterior teeth from touching. This usually takes a splint system that fits both the upper and lower teeth, with contact only in the front. This allows muscles free movement, keeps the back teeth from touching or over erupting (growing higher) and decreases the force of your bite.
If we can help, we’d like to. Call 778-410-2080 for a consultation.