Restore balance to your bite and find relief from pain.


Our North Portland dentist can help.

Often, patients come to us with complaints of jaw pain, headaches, clenching, grinding, clicking, popping, or other issues that may be related to the jaw joints. Aside from more obvious causes such as jaw injury, degenerative joint disease, or oral habits, the root causes of these problems are often difficult to diagnose.

Dr. Watson’s extensive training and thorough understanding of the complex relationship between our teeth, jaw joints, muscles, and airway enable him to identify other factors that may be at work. These may include a bite imbalance or sleep-disordered breathingLearn more about sleep-disordered breathing.

man holding his jaw


A bite imbalance exists when the teeth fit together in a way that is different from the way the jaw joints should fit together, resulting in multiple biting positions. This type of imbalance often results in increased muscle tension of all jaw muscles, along with uneven stress on the teeth, jaw joints, and muscles as you bite and chew. Over time, the stress on the jaw joints can pull the discs out of alignment, which, for some people, can be severely painful. A misaligned disc is a form of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder.

woman holding her head in bed
Signs of bite and TMJ function problems include:
  • Jaw pain/muscle pain
  • Headaches
  • Clenching or grinding
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Tooth wear
  • Teeth shifting or crowding
  • Chipped or cracked teeth or restorations
  • Uneven bite/more than one bite position

There can be several causes for a bite imbalance, including misaligned teeth, missing teeth, poorly made dental restorations, and injuries. To determine the source of an imbalance and the best type of treatment, Dr. Watson typically recommends starting with a bite evaluation visit. After this visit, he can make recommendations appropriate for your unique situation.

Here are just a few examples of treatment we may recommend to help resolve bite imbalances, reduce pain, and prevent future tooth damage.

  • Occlusal Orthotic Appliance (Splint or Nightguard)
    An occlusal orthotic appliance, commonly called a splint or nightguard, is a custom-made plastic appliance that fits over your top or bottom teeth. They can be used to establish a patient’s ideal jaw position before initiating other modes of therapy for bite and TMJ function at North Portland Dental Care.

    They can be made for full-time or night-time wear. Although they don’t treat the cause of a bite imbalance, they keep upper and lower teeth from touching each other, preventing damage that can occur from clenching or grinding.

    Once properly adjusted, orthotic appliances allow jaw muscles to relax, reducing clenching and grinding and associated muscle, joint, and headache pain. As such, they’re often recommended because they reduce the effects of a bite imbalance non-invasively without changing your bite or tooth structure.

  • Orthodontic Treatment
    Orthodontic treatment is often a non-invasive method of improving the overall balance and harmony of the chewing system. Our Portland dentist offers a braces alternative using the Invisalign® system.

    Invisalign®Learn more about Invisalign® treatment uses clear plastic aligners to move teeth into a more ideal position over time. Aligners can be removed for eating and brushing/flossing.

    Before treatment begins, we create a virtual simulation to plan movement and see the proposed end result. Treatment generally takes 12-18 months. After treatment, you may need a minor bite adjustment and then will need to wear a night-time retainer to maintain ideal alignment.

  • Bite Equilibration and/or Dental Restorations
    Through a combination of equilibration and restorations, we can reshape, raise, or lower the biting surfaces of teeth. This creates more even contact between your upper and lower teeth, improving the balance of your chewing system.

    This option is invasive, usually requiring removal of some healthy tooth structure. Before changing your natural teeth, we typically create a mockup of the planned treatment on a set of models of your teeth.

‘‘All of the staff is excellent. They make sure you’re as comfortable as possible. They fully and clearly explain treatment options and listen to and answer any questions you may have. I’m very happy with the level of service and care here, and that to me, is priceless.’’

- Rachel B.

Providing the ultimate dental experience.
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North Portland Dental Care
1832 N Lombard St.
Portland, OR 97217


(503) 235-3002