What is gnathology?
Gnathology is the discipline that studies the masticatory functions of a complex organ that consists of teeth, jaw and mandible, muscles, temporomandibular joints, and that oversees many functions including chewing, speaking, swallowing, biting, smiling, breathing.
This shows the fundamental role of this organ in a person’s life (and in relationships), and the importance of conducting dental therapy correctly, in accordance with gnathological rules.
Many patients suffer from gnathological disorders. Symptoms may concern teeth (worn out teeth, chipped teeth, breakage of old fillings, breakage of old crowns or bridges, breakage or failure of implants, teeth sensitivity to heat or cold, fractures of devitalised teeth), other times patients present a nuanced symptomatology or one that is difficult to relate to chewing (neck pain that the patient believes to be related to the neck, ringing in the ears (known as tinnitus), ear pain similar to that of an ear infection, noise or pain in the temporomandibular joints, headaches (especially in the temples, the nape of the neck, the eyes), back pain, etc.
Gnathology is a very complex discipline, that has given rise to many schools of thought, sometimes conflicting, and is also constantly evolving thanks to new technologies and scientific studies in the world.
What are the symptoms of a “gnathology patient“?
- Noises in the jaw joint while eating or talking
- Pain in the jaw joint, even when the mouth is closed
- Limitations in opening the mouth
- Limitations in opening the mouth
- Difficulty or blockage in closing the mouth
- Generalised pain in the dental arch
- Sensation of not meshing the teeth properly
- Tiredness when chewing food
- Grinding of teeth at night or during the day
- Clenching teeth at night or during the day
- Rupture of old fillings
- Removal of fixed capsules or bridges
- Tooth collar bumps
- Ear pain similar to otitis
- Dizziness or sense of instability
- Neck or shoulder stiffness
- Sometimes back pain
- Displacement of teeth that had been repositioned with braces
If you have any of these symptoms, you have a gnathological problem.
What can be done in such cases?
An accurate gnathological examination is the first step for making a diagnosis and consequently a correct therapy.
About the gnathological examination
During the examination the patient’s medical history is taken into consideration, as it can highlight correlations between previous or current pathologies and chewing problems.
A gnathological file is then compiled, collecting the signs and symptoms referred by the patient to the organ of mastication.
Impressions of the arches, chewing waxes, and anatomical facial arch are taken in order to mount the models on a patient simulator (articulator). In this way, the gnathologist will be able to simulate and study the functions and movements of the patient’s mouth even in his/her absence.
Then we move on to the clinical functional analysis which involves:
Palpation and auscultation with the stethoscope of the sounds of the temporomandibular joints during mouth movements.
Palpation of the muscles involved in mouth movement
Dental and mouth opening measurements
The function of the temporomandibular joints during mouth movements (opening, closing, right and left laterality) is investigated using an instrument (axiograph or condylograph).
This examination is very useful for obtaining information that would otherwise be impossible to verify in any other way.
Radiological examinations by means of latero-lateral teleradiography, to check if the height of the mouth is correct and if the inclination of the teeth is congruous in the context of facial harmony.
In more complex cases, there is the possibility of a magnetic resonance imaging. With an MRI, we can obtain important information about the joint disc, a structure that would not be visible with a CT scan.
Integrating all these data leads to a so-called “confluent diagnosis“, which finally allows to set the therapy.
Find out more on your gnathology therapy
After diagnosing and classifying our patient within the cranio-cervico-mandibular disorders, the range of therapies that can be implemented opens up.
Get in touch
Dental Practice Ricotti
Gnathology, Prevention and Oral Hygene, Laser, Pedontics, Periodontology
Via Del Cairo, 34
21100 – Varese
Mon – Fri: 10am – 6pm