One of our goals is to provide the most conservative treatment possible in every situation. Oral appliances offer simple, non-invasive care for a variety of conditions. Regardless of the application, every appliance we prescribe is custom-crafted for you with excellent fit and function.
Appliances designed on models of your teeth can be used to fit on either upper or lower teeth, or on both at the same time. Whether we’re treating night-time sleep grinding, diagnosed obstructive sleep apnea, bite problems or jaw joint disorders, appliance therapy may aid our treatment. Dr. Lawson employs a variety of innovative designs depending on treatment goals and your preferences.
Under normal circumstances, your teeth should only contact for about 5 minutes each day. Normal chewing results in brief intervals of contact between enamel surfaces, the hardest substance in the human body. Slight amounts of wear over years of function frequently occur, and bite edges can chip a little. But these durable surfaces should wear at nearly undetectable rates.
Sometimes teeth develop a flattened, worn appearance, even in young patients. In such cases, x-rays may demonstrate unusually thin layers of enamel as if sandpaper has been drawn across the chewing surfaces of the teeth. A few minutes of chewing daily simply shouldn’t erode the enamel so much, so when we see such wear patterns, we suspect grinding, even if the patient is unaware of it.
Some patients develop a subconscious habit of grinding their teeth, either during the day or night. In many cases, the abrasive action occurs only during sleep, and for only a few seconds at a time. If you wake up with a sore jaw or a morning headache, chances run high you’re grinding your teeth during the night. In some patients, enlarged jaw muscles develop on the sides of the face from the extra activity. These muscles can be the strongest in the body, ounce for ounce. That means they can generate a lot of unnecessary damage.
The unusual activity not only wears down teeth and strains the overworked muscles. The compressive forces can also damage the intricate jaw joints on one or both sides. Damage to the joints may lead to arthritic changes, chronic pain, and popping or clicking. Once these changes settle in, reversing their condition may become impossible.
If you’re waking up with a sore jaw or headaches, or you’ve noticed chips or flattening of your teeth, a consult with Dr. Lawson should be on your list. The sooner the problem receives attention, the less damage there will be. Often a carefully calibrated night guard with a distinct bite relationship built in will eliminate the symptoms while protecting your precious enamel.
Daytime habits of clenching or grinding deserve attention, and strategies to reduce the problem may be developed. Dr. Lawson will also analyze the current relationship between your teeth to make sure they’re moving against each other optimally when you chew. Regardless of the cause, eliminating the strain on the jaw and your teeth as quickly as possible can save you many problems as time goes on.