Most people, including dentists understand gum disease as a chronic inflammation or infection of the gum and bone that support the teeth. That’s where the consensus ends.
The traditional way to treat gum disease is scaling of the roots followed by periodic maintenance. This traditional approach is based on the belief that the primary cause of the infection is poor hygiene and bacteria colonizing the pockets of the gums. But what happens when the cause of the problem is not deficient hygiene. Why is it that some people develop gum disease despite having excellent home care?. What happens when you apply the cookie cutter approach and treat everyone with the traditional “deep cleaning” therapy?.
The bone and gum that support the teeth serve as a shock absorption mechanism when chewing, biting and grinding our teeth. Under normal circumstances, these tissues are able to tolerate the forces involved in such activities. The problem arises when excessive, sustained forces are applied to this shock absorbing system. Under pressure, the small capillaries that nourish the bone and gums collapse, creating a tourniquet effect and causing a continuous lack of oxygen in these tissues. Lack of oxygen produces dead cells and tissues. The defense system then triggers a complex inflammatory process.
Your body reacts to this traumatic event in the same way it does for any other traumatic injury. Killer cells travel to the site of the injury and start “eating” away the dead cells and tissue. The gum starts having the same appearance as gum disease, only in this case the culprit is not bacteria but bite trauma. The pressure associated with biting forces from unconscious grinding of the teeth is able to fracture tooth structure, dental work and yes, even your own bone suffers micro-fractures. When bone fractures, your orthopedic surgeon, will either cast it or place metal pins to hold the segments together while the bone fuses. In micro-fractures, we can’t place casts or screws. Our most effective way to immobilize the segments is by splinting the teeth with a rigid orthopedic mouthpiece. This removable device will sit on the teeth during sleep which is the most common time of unconscious excessive pressure and it is designed to redistribute the biting forces in a way that prevents pressure on the healing bone.
Some of the most commonly overlooked signs of bite trauma are, wear facets, enamel vertical stress fracture lines, receding gums, exposed root surfaces, teeth mobility and teeth shifting, excess bone growth, joint noises, jaw muscle tenderness and headaches.
Our parents and grandparents lost their teeth to this once obscure cause. If you suspect that you have gum disease, or if your treatment approach produces limited to no results, ask your dentist for an assessment of signs of bite trauma.
For a unique computerized bite assessment, call our Appointment Secretary at 714-529-2626 in Brea, Ca. or 626.810.5000 in West Covina,Ca.