It’s likely that your scheduled trips to the dentist for routine and restorative dentistry have included some discussion and examination of your “bite,” that is, the position of your upper and lower teeth when you bite down. Perhaps you have even had to bite down on colored paper that leaves a mark on your teeth so your Manhattan Beach Cosmetic Dentist can examine the impact of high spots on your dental restoration.
But why does your dentist dedicate so much attention to your bite, or occlusion, and why is it so important to do so?
What is Dental Occlusion?
Dental Occlusion, or dental bite, refers to the top and bottom alignment of your teeth when you are chewing or at rest. Your dentist’s concern is that the contact between your upper and lower teeth results in a healthy alignment.
Different types of occlusion, (or dental bite) relate to different problems:
- Static occlusion: The way your teeth fit together when your jaw is at rest
- Centric Occlusion: The way in which your teeth fit together when your jaw is closed. The focus of Centric Occlusion is the alignment of your upper and lower teeth when you bite down.
- Malocclusion: Occurs when your teeth do not align properly and so do not fit together in the right way. Malocclusion can cause underbites, overbites, and cross bites.
Malocclusion can have serious repercussions. Dental restorations are likely to wear out or break with the presence of malocclusion. Receding gums, Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) problems like grinding and joint pain, and aches in the teeth are all caused in part by malocclusion. Some patients with malocclusion experience fatigue in the muscles due to unnecessary force on the jaw, which in turn can lead to sinus problems, neck and shoulder pain and headaches.
How is malocclusion treated?
Diagnosis of your particular condition is the first step in determining the best course of treatment for you. Perhaps you are a candidate for dental restorations like crowns, or perhaps your dentist will seek alternative solutions for problems like teeth grinding at night (bruxism). Some cases may require the teeth to be reshaped, and still others might use orthodontics to reposition teeth where TMJ problems persist.
If you are experiencing pain in your head or neck that you feel may be related to your dental bite, it is important to share that information with your team at Manhattan Beach Cosmetic Dentist Office so that your needs can be addressed.