I have written about TMJ problems in a previous blog. So what the heck do bite guards have to do with the Ohio State Marching Band and why am I writing about them? The band’s performance of a Tribute to Michael Jackson with the entire band moonwalking and their tribute to Hollywood with SuperMan flying and Harry Potter playing quidditch were a display of team work and precision that I have never seen from any previous halftime band at any performance. The combined 25 million YouTube hits to view the performances is a testimony to the Ohio State band’s commitment to excellence.
Watching the performances made me reflect on the incredible amount of practice, teamwork and commitment to perfection that went into the choreography and execution of the performance.
Dentistry is too many times looked at as a commodity. Dentists and their team at times tend to be viewed as an auto shop that just fixes cars—inanimateobjects that are preprogrammed and repaired in pretty much cookie cutter, predetermined routines.
But, dental patients actually come in all shapes and sizes. Every patient has slightly, if not dramatic, variations in anatomy and emotions. Something such as a seemingly simple injection is so variable and it demands full appreciation and knowledge of the underlying anatomy of muscles, nerves, nerve plexus and vascularities.
A great example is the occasional patient who feels a “shock” when the dentist is numbing the lower jaw. Your tongue nerve or jaw nerve (yes, two different ones that we concentrate on avoiding) can be gently nicked by the needle and send a brief shock to your tongue or jaw nerve. If the dentist is slow, cautious and meticulous (as he/she should be), there is no damage—just a scare. We know approximately where each nerve and vein and artery is but all of you vary greatly in your own unique way.
So back to bite guards and the Ohio State band…A bite guard is not a commodity for most patients. Many patients purchase over the counter or infomercial homemade bite guards without ever consulting with their dentist.
Questions need to be addressed; the main question is why are you buying a bite guard to begin with?
- If it is for tooth (occlusal wear) wear? Have you figured out why your teeth are wearing?
- If it is a joint popping or clicking, do you know what is causing the noise?
- Are you certain that the over the counter bite guard is helping or hurting in the long run?
- Who might have the answers for you?
The tooth wear may be muscle related, tooth position and tooth function related or jaw related. It may be a combination of any or all of these. Your symptoms may include, chipped teeth, jaw pain, jaw popping or jaw clicking.You may need a simple bite guard, such as the one you may have bought after the infomercial thatyou saw. But, your problem might be more severe, and you may need a Tanner Appliance as a bite balancing device or you might even need orthodontics or jaw surgery. I don’t know. Your dentist doesn’t know if you have severe or progressing TMJ unless we see you to help you.
Treating TMJ can be a very challenging process. This video on Temporal Mandibular Dysfunction shows the delicate balance that must be struck between teeth, muscles and the jaw joint—not to mention neck and back posture and dysfunction.
It takes a dental team approach with education, knowledge and practice experience much like the Ohio State Marching Band to properly treat TMJ and grinding issues. For most patients, it is not a “do it yourself” process.