Alignment Trumps All
Q: Dear Dr. Crapo: I read your piece on the gentleman who was breaking his teeth post retirement.
It caught my eye because I've broken three bridges in the past five years. I've tried bite guards but broke two of them. It seems that I can't stop clenching and grinding my teeth.
You told the gentleman to have his dentistry phased to ensure that it held up and proved satisfactory.
What does that mean? Do you fix the worst teeth than move to the next? I'm sure I'd break anything put in my mouth.
Besides the money I'm laying out, I feel stressed and tired, like I can't get a good rest anymore. Are these things related?
A: Several years ago I met a gentleman in his mid fifties. He was powerfully built. His jaw and associated musculature reflected this same strength. His teeth were almost flat throughout his mouth because he ground his teeth. He'd broken one of his molars so badly it needed extraction.
A bridge was placed and he had broken that. He was breaking out fillings and he and his dentist were greatly perplexed. He said he felt a need to grind and clench his teeth throughout the day. After a second bridge broke he was depressed and decided to let his teeth go.
His dentist told him he'd broken the strongest thing he could put in his mouth.After two years his wife coaxed him to see if friend of mine who she'd heard could help him. Reluctantly he went. After thorough investigation it was determined that this gentleman had a misalignment and that this problem was getting worse as he ground his teeth. A misalignment is any pattern of bite (i.e. tooth alignment) that is out of harmony with the correct position of the ball and socket of the jaw joint or the TMJ.
The phase treatment began in this case by adding (bonding material) the proper thickness, length and inclines to all of his front teeth top and bottom (the amount he had lost through grinding over the years). When the bonding to correct his front teeth was done and his teeth together, it was apparent that he'd worn his back teeth down and a gap was now evident.
Thanks to bonding, this gap was filled in such a way as to make perfect contact between all the back teeth at the same time the joints were fitting perfectly in their anatomy. All misalignments and imbalances were gone. He stayed in that state for six months not breaking anything. From that point, all his front teeth received permanent veneer crowns.
A year later his posterior teeth received crowns. As a side benefit, he reported sleeping better than ever and being totally rested.
He also said that his “need” to clench and grind completely disappeared.