Occlusion or Delusion: Reasons Why Treating Joint Noise is the Wrong Approach

Treating Joint Noise is the Wrong Approach

Sometimes, our knee-jerk reactions and automatic assumptions aren’t as effective as we would hope. With joint noise, it is important to look beyond the obvious and treat underlying causes rather than outward indicators. 

by Dr. Lee Ann Brady

Clearing up All of The “Delusion” in Occlusion

Treating Joint Noise is the Wrong Approach

The reason I titled this series “Occlusion or Delusion” (beyond the convenient rhyming) is because I tend to find that there is more misinformation than helpful, actionable facts in the world of occlusion.

Why is this? I think it has a lot to do with how unpredictable occlusion cases seem from the outset. Patients are looking for answers and even if you’re incredibly skilled at treating occlusion, it may take a lot of trial and error to get to a workable solution.

Occlusion is challenging. One of the most problematic aspects of this treatment is something I’d like to address today: joint noise.

What Joint Noise Isn’t

What Joint Noise Isn't

Let’s clear something up. Just giving a patient a night guard and calling it a day will not lead to success.

It’s too easy of a solution. Of course the patient will lap it up and enjoy the simplicity, but you do a disservice to them and to yourself if you go for the quick fix.

Why do we as dentists spend so much time obsessing about the “noise” of joints? I think the reason is that it’s an obvious indicator something isn’t quite right.

What Joint Noise Is

What Joint Noise Is

Yes, the noise is an indicator of anatomic change and tells us that the joint is unhealthy. But a piece of plastic is a first step for management of inflammation, not a final step or perfect solution.

We don’t treat outward evidence. We manage current or potential symptoms.

Think of joint noise as a diagnostic clue. Then think beyond it.

What are other red herrings that you’ve encountered in occlusion cases? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!

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