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Treatment of masticatory organ dysfunction

Description of the specialty

One of the symptoms of the masticatory organ dysfunction is pain in the temporomandibular joint and/or masticatory muscles. These can affect both adults and children. Diagnostics and treatment of masticatory organ dysfunctions and occlusion disorders is done by dentists who specialise in this field.

The masticatory organ dysfunction is currently considered to be as a lifestyle disease, and affects societies of highly developed countries. Its aetiology is not fully known. Several factors contribute to its development, and the dysfunction develops over years. These include, among others:

  • modern lifestyle: prolonged stress, many hours of work at the computer, fast pace of life,
  • untreated cariogenic cavities leading to a large loss of tooth tissue,
  • missing teeth,
  • malocclusion,
  • head and neck injuries.

Symptoms characteristic of the masticatory organ dysfunction can affect the patient’s oral cavity as well as the entire head, neck, and shoulder area. In such situations, proper diagnostics and treatment are necessary.

Masticatory organ dysfunction – what symptoms should worry me?

Problems affecting the masticatory organ can manifest in a variety of ways:

  • symptoms affecting the teeth: enamel cracks, pathological abrasion of teeth and fillings, exposure of tooth necks and formation of cervical defects, sometimes pathological tooth mobility,
  • pain in the jaw, head, neck, shoulder girdle, upper limbs and even chest, pain when yawning and eating (biting and crushing food),
  • other symptoms: audible crackles when opening the oral cavity, reduced mobility of the jaw, habitual dislocation of the jaw, ENT disorders, hearing disorders (tinnitus and ringing).

Masticatory organ dysfunction – diagnostics

At enel-med medical centres, we provide extensive diagnostics of the masticatory organ dysfunction.

  • Dental diagnostics is performed based on a clinical examination of the oral cavity by the dentist and evaluation of the orthopantomogram that enables to detect many abnormalities, e.g. caries, periapical lesions, impacted, retained and supernumerary teeth, and teeth after improper root-canal treatment.
  • Diagnostics of the temporomandibular joint – it is possible thanks to 3D computed tomography.
  • T-scan is a computer-aided method helping assess the distribution of occlusal forces and existing overloads in the masticatory organ.  The patient bites into a special mouth-shaped sensor. When biting down, a video is recorded, showing how the various contacts between the teeth form. The software immediately analyses the recorded video, enabling to detect existing irregularities.

If necessary, additional examinations may also be ordered, e.g. measurement of occlusal conditions with the facial arch or taking impressions for plaster models (mapping the conditions in the patient’s oral cavity). Only an extensive examination of the masticatory system enables to select the best treatment method for the patient.

Treatment of masticatory organ dysfunction

The treatment usually consists of several stages. First of all, existing abnormalities must be corrected, sometimes including physiotherapy, and then the occlusal reconstruction is performed. Depending on individual needs, this may include conservative, orthodontic, prosthetic or implant-prosthetic treatment.

After the occlusal reconstruction, it is also necessary to apply treatment that will prevent the recurrence of the disorders, e.g. use dental guards. These are clear guards placed on teeth whose task is to:

  • relax masticatory muscles,
  • protect the patient from clenching and gnashing of teeth,
  • stabilise the position of the mandible.

At each stage of treatment of the masticatory organ dysfunction, physiotherapy is also recommended: appropriate exercises and relaxation techniques to relieve the muscles and the temporomandibular joint and to consolidate results of the therapy.

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