Occlusal equilibration is a therapy that is used when the cause of TMJ is due to the bite surface of the teeth. This therapy involves the reshaping of the teeth where the improper biting surfaces are located. This allows the jaw to close correctly into its position of the temporomandibular socket, relieving pain.
This may sound like extensive work or even a painful procedure, but it can actually be a very conservative, pain-free and effective method. Think of the reshaping of your teeth like filing your nail. In the case of equilibration, though, it is so slight that you would not notice a difference in shape. You will likely notice a big difference when you bite, though.
The Equilibration Process
First, your dentist will use articulating ribbon held onto by forceps, as you can see in the picture to the left. The ribbon is placed in your mouth as you bite down and grind all around. The marks on your teeth show the dentist where you are hitting or “contacting” on each of your teeth.
Once the ribbon has marked your teeth, your dentist will use a very fine drill to make that ever so slight change to your tooth’s shape. Since it is such a minimal change, you shouldn’t experience pain. Your dentist will make adjustments until they only see line marks in the front and dot marks in the back, like you see in the image to the right.