Dr. Crapo: I’m a sixty-eight year old woman. Six months ago I broke a lower left molar. It, with several other teeth on my left side needed crowning, my dentist said, so I had them all done at the same time. About two weeks after the procedure as I was putting on my lipstick, I noticed my jaw seemed to swing to the right. Because I was in a hurry, I didn’t think too much about it, but later on when I was getting ready for bed, I noticed that my jaw would swing to the right each time I opened my mouth wide. Because nothing hurt, I wondered when it had started. Several days later my bite changed - I was hitting harder on my right side and my left side didn’t seem to touch. When I told my dentist the history of the past several weeks, he said that when a lot of work is done, shifts can take place, but they’re usually minor and not to worry. He put the crowns in and ground the teeth on my right side. When I left his office my bite seemed fine. Within days however, I again felt my right side hit before my left. To make a long story short, I’ve been back twice. Each time he grinds on my right teeth till my bite is “right”. Now it’s been two weeks and my right side is doing it again. What’s happening – it is me – is it the dentist?
You fall into a small minority who have joint issues but no pain. During your life, events, either traumatic or chronic (long term wear or tear), have occurred such that the ball of your joint, the ligaments, or both, have shifted or changed shape. When a change in shape or position of your joint occurs, your bite changes as well. This underlying problem may remain undiscovered until there’s a traumatic event or until a disease process advances enough for a change of shape in the joint.
These events are not easy to detect for you or your dentist. Sophisticated measures, that we deem necessary, are available to discover these problems in advance (C.T. and MRI scans), but they are not universally routine in dentistry as yet. Any history of trauma, pain, dislocation or change in bite, should be reported. If treatment is needed when these changes are occurring, it should be reversible and therapeutic in nature, until your bite, joint, muscles and ligaments stabilize. Even when everything seems stable, changes will occur and future bite adjustments will be inevitable. Because your jaw swings right it is consistent with a “stuck” or displaced ligament.
If we can help, we’d like to. Call 778-410-2080 for a consultation.