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Sanjoy Rakshit is a forward-thinking dentist who practices at Allenton Dental Practice, on the outskirts of Derby. You can check out their website at http://www.allentondental.co.uk/ where you will be able to get additional information about the matters referred to in this article! He has decided to embrace as much of the latest developments as practicable, which has led to his recently travelling to the United States to find out about something called BioPAK. This considers all of the anatomical components that affect how the jaws open and close, as well as the precise alignment and positioning of the upper and lower sets of teeth, relative to each other, and how the teeth bite together (described as occlusion). If all of these elements are not functioning correctly (for a variety of potential reasons, too involved to consider here), there are a number of problems that can be experienced, such as broken teeth, grinding, and even headaches. The situation also includes the position of the lower jaw, since this plays the major part in the location of the lower set of teeth, and this in turn is affected by the workings of the sets of muscles that open and close the jaw: it is problems with the bite that can cause difficulties for these muscles, which in turn can cause headaches. OK - so the bite is vitally important, but what can technology do to help us?
- Bite Balance and Timing
- As the jaws open and close, pressures are created as a result of the forces exerted by the teeth and muscles involved; by using special sensor technology, using a very thin sensor which is placed in the mouth, these forces can be recorded, and then analysed using dedicated software. As a result of this analysis, dentists can uncover problems with a patient's bite which might otherwise go unnoticed - not due to any deficiency in a dentist's skills, but simply because the situation is a complex one, requiring more data and analysis than can be achieved without the assistance of these latest innovations! Information obtained about the forces acting on the teeth can allow the dentist to correct all kinds of problems that might have been treated in the past without understanding the underlying problems which have led to the situation.
- Jaw Joint Analysis
- In a similar way, it is possible to analyse the functionality of the muscles and structures involved in the operation of the jaw joint. I found this aspect of the presentation especially fascinating since I have a jaw that clicks when I open and close it (which can annoy people that I share a meal with, since the click is quite easily audible - sadly!). I had not been completely clear as to what particular elements of my jaw anatomy were not functioning as they should, but Sanjoy was able to illustrate exactly what causes this problem, and then went on to demonstrate a modern technique that can be used to analyse the condition of the appropriate parts of the jaw joint, using a technique called Joint Vibration Analysis. This technique provides a great deal of information about the functioning of the jaw joint, which in turn can affect not only dental health, but also other health matters associated with the head and neck/shoulders. The software used to analyse the results produces a set of charts and graphs which can be interpreted to ascertain the state of health of the jaw joint, and we were able to see the results obtained when club secretary Paul Mellor had volunteered to undergo the procedure for the purposes of the presentation. Sadly - or happily, depending on your perspective - Paul had no significant problems, and the graphs confirmed this quite clearly to us. I was left feeling that my jaw would have displayed a completely different story!
- At present, few dentists in this country use this technology, mostly because it has been designed and developed in the USA, and is taking time to make the journey across the Atlantic Ocean. However, the process has begun, and the prospects for improved dental health are greatly improved as a result. As with all such applications of technology, development continues all of the time, and can only lead to more and more improvements! Sanjoy presented the advantages of the use of these technological advancements, not least the fact that the analysis procedures are non-invasive and consequently painless - always an advantage at the dentist - as well as being able to improve the state of teeth, jaw, and other areas, not immediately associated with the work of a dentist. I was most impressed, as well as finding myself wishing that such technology had been around when I was a child (a very long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away!), as I suspect that I might have been spared quite a few problems. I predict that as such developments become better known in this country, their use will increase and the overall dental health of the country will improve, as well as other instances of pain and discomfort being eradicated as a side effect of improvements to bite balance and jaw joint action.