jladams - In my opinion if you have a cavity you need to have it taken care of, if you have teeth that need to be pulled, same thing. I would strongly advise no partials or bridgework on the bottom until your bite has been adjusted and TMJ issues are taken care of.
Before I met my TMJ guy I had a partial made on the bottom and wore it. Needless to say it was fitted to a crooked, badly aligned jaw with a displaced deteriorated disc. They kept telling me "your bite is fine" to which I replied "my jaw is crooked". After a long time of complaining that the partial hurt my jaws they finally told me "you're right, your jaw is crooked and you have TMJ issues". This experience worsened my bite over time and I have a perfectly useless partial I'll never be able to use again and money out the window to pay for half of it.
Since my splint replaces my missing teeth on the bottom, doing the job of a partial, my teeth have not moved at all.
I just had a tooth pulled on the top but my TMJ guy told me we don't need to worry about a bridge for a number of months as the underlying bone needs to heal. It does not affect my bite at all. My TMJ guy is also my dentist which is a great thing!
In my case what is done on the top is not an issue - all work on the bottom affects what he does to my splint.
[This message has been edited by cathyk (edited 04-30-2003).]