Dr. Wooddell and Dr. Passaro can offer patients suffering from bite problems and TMJ disorders comprehensive diagnosis and treatment in our Davidsonville dental office. Our dentists have made restorative dental care and the treatment of occlusal disease a focus of our practice and have developed a unique treatment approach which they teach to colleagues in the Chesapeake Dental Education Center, located within our facility.
To diagnose and treat TMJ related disorders effectively, our team incorporates the Systematic Treatment Evaluation Protocol (STEP™) developed and taught by Drs. Wooddell and Passaro for a thorough evaluation of all factors affecting the health, function, biology, and aesthetics of a patient’s smile. The key to a lasting and comfortable outcome is to address underlying imbalances in the bite, misalignment and other complex issues that impact occlusion.
We look for the common signs of a TMJ related disorder during your routine dental exam, which can include: chipped teeth, cracked teeth, gum recession and changes in the fit of the bite or oral appliances. Our team also takes the time to discuss your oral health condition, any concerns you may have and the comfort of your bite.
What Causes TMJ Disorders?
TMJ disorders can be related to a range of dental issues and can also have a variety of associated risk factors. From jaw structural concerns to tooth misalignment and trauma, there can be a lot of different reasons for an uncomfortable or uneven bite.
Through a comprehensive evaluation, discussion and diagnostics, Drs. Wooddell and Passaro seek to identify the underlying cause and can work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan that will stabilize your bite and support long term oral health.
What is Bruxism?
One of the more common factors in the health of the bite is bruxism, a clinical term for teeth grinding. Teeth grinding can be both a cause and a symptom of a TMJ disorder, one that many patients do not realize they have because it tends to occur at night during sleep. Teeth grinding can also lead to damaged teeth and gum disease as pressure from the jaw muscles places undue forces on the tooth structure. In many cases, there is also tooth misalignment affecting the health and function of the bite.
Patients who grind their teeth may notice, in addition to frequent tooth damage, that the bite feels “off” or it is difficult to close the jaw comfortably. This is the result of ever-increasing tension in the jaw muscles that are also pulling the jaw joint out of alignment and possibly damaging the joint. The right treatment will restore balance to bite function, relieve pressure on jaw joints and provide a long term result.
Dr. Wooddel and Dr. Passaro will use a range of diagnostic tools to evaluate the function of your bite. From there, a treatment plan designed to address your oral health needs will be created using an interdisciplinary approach for the most comprehensive dentistry. If a specialist is needed as part of your overall treatment, we will coordinate all aspects of your care.
The most conservative approach to treating a TMJ related disorder or bite problem is the use of a custom fit mouth guard. Also called a “night guard”, this oral appliance looks and functions much like a sports mouthguard. Wearing your night guard when sleeping or during times of high stress can alleviate tension in the jaw and prevent subsequent teeth grinding and/or jaw clenching.
If tooth alignment, tooth damage or jaw structure needs to be addressed, we will work with you to restore not only a functional smile but one that looks great and feels good.