Occlusion is the relationship between your upper and lower teeth as they come into functional contact, such as when you bite, chew or close your jaws together. The way the occlusal (chewing) surfaces of any of your teeth come together affects the other teeth, in addition to your gums, your neck and head, the muscles of the jaw, the jaw joint and your oral health.
When your dentist examines your occlusion, he or she is looking at how chewing forces, or those forces that occur when your teeth come together, could cause a breakdown of the teeth, gums, muscles and joints. Force is also exerted on your teeth when they come together during clenching or grinding. Your dentist will assess what might be done, if necessary, to prevent or correct any problems associated with chewing force. There are a number of common signs that are indicative of malocclusion. Signs that there might be a problem with your occlusion include:
- Excessive tooth wear
- Tooth breakage
- Tooth loss
- Tooth sensitivity
- Head and neck muscle pain
- Jaw joint pain
- Joint noises
There are five main muscles that control your ability to open and close your mouth. Together these muscles can generate tremendous forces when chewing, clenching and grinding your teeth. If a misalignment of the teeth is present, these large forces can be translated form the misaligned teeth as destructive forces to the ligaments and bone that hold the teeth in place, the muscles of the head and neck and the jaw joint.
If you and your dentist determine that your occlusion is contributing to and/or causing dental problems – whether pain, chipped or broken teeth, failing restorations or other consequences of a bad bite – a treatment plan may be developed to adjust your occlusion.
I am presently seeing patients at an area dentist’s office and can be reached at 356-5635. I, and my staff, are looking forward to seeing all of our patients at our new office currently under construction in the near future.
Oshins of Smiles,
-Dr. Steven Oshins