Dear, I Can’t See Your Teeth!
Q: I am a business man in the region. The company I represent requires that I spend a good part of each day meeting with its clients. Over the past five years, it’s become apparent that my front teeth are “dissolving” at an alarming rate. My wife has commented that she can’t even see my teeth unless I laugh, and then, she says, they look uneven and so stubby that they hardly resemble teeth. I’ve put this off, thinking I just can’t make time for my teeth, but lately I’ve felt it might be influencing my interactions with people.
On that note, I decided to see my dentist. He told me he couldn’t really help me because of the way my bite lined up. He sent me to the orthodontist who said I’d need braces for nine to twelve months, then I’d have to see an oral surgeon to reset my jaw for proper alignment.
The orthodontist explained that my front teeth hit edge to edge and in the past few years, I’ve broken through the enamel and now I’m wearing out the dentin. I’ve been wearing it away by grinding and clenching to the point that my front teeth are hardly visible.
Is there anything that will work to solve my problem without braces and breaking my jaw? I can’t see myself taking the time, to say nothing of the braces and surgery. I know something must be done – I can’t imagine wearing my front teeth to nothing at 49!
A: If your dentist has taken molds of your teeth and analyzed them on a bite simulator, your orthodontist has imaged your jaw relationships and the two of them conferenced to develop treatment plan options, then this might be the best way to go. If on the other hand, this has not been done, it should be completed before any treatment is started. Careful analysis is mandatory in challenging treatment options, as this appears to be. An edge to edge bite as you’ve described, can lend itself to a variety of challenging complications. If your only problem is severely worn teeth, it may be a blessing in disguise.
Over the last four or five years, I’ve seen this edge to edge bite result in muscle pain, joint pain, TMJ ligament derangement, painful teeth, headaches and a host of other problems. Using a bite simulator allows us to see if correction can be made by crowning the teeth. When front teeth are severely worn, there is almost always a way to crown the teeth and give you a non-damaging bite, to say nothing of restoring the appearance to one that is natural and attractive.