You may already know about the importance of having straight teeth for avoiding tooth decay and gum disease and for maintaining a healthy-looking smile.
But have you thought about occlusion?
What’s that, you ask?
Occlusion is a funny-sounding word that refers to your bite, or the way your upper and lower teeth fit together.
A traumatic occlusion – also called malocclusion or a “bad bite”– is what happens when your upper and lower teeth don’t close properly when chewing or at rest. As with crooked teeth, a bad bite can affect the health, function and appearance of your teeth.
Let’s take a look at what can cause a bad bite, symptoms you may experience and available treatments options.
What Causes Malocclusion?
Here are a few factors that may interfere with normal occlusion and affect your risk of a bad bite:
- Bad habits. If you have a problem with teeth clenching, grinding or rubbing, it can cause wear and tear that affects your bite. Chewing on objects such as pencils, ice or fingernails can also inflict structural damage on your teeth or jaw and cause traumatic occlusion.
- Stress. Many people face a great deal of stress keeping up with the hectic demands of daily life. This can promote some of the bad habits listed above such as clenching, grinding and rubbing of teeth.
- Missing teeth or other trauma. When your bite is properly aligned, the pressure on your teeth when chewing is evenly distributed. But if you’ve suffered tooth loss or significant damage due to tooth decay or injury, it can change the bite load, so that remaining teeth receive excessive pressure. This can lead to problems with your bite and overall oral health.
- Dental decay and fracture. When some teeth get worn down because of tooth decay, it can lead to occlusal trauma. Bite problems can also occur if implants or dentures don’t fit properly. That’s why tooth restorations must be custom designed not only for comfort, but for proper fit and function.
What problems are caused by traumatic bite?
Similar to crooked teeth, a bad bite is about much more than appearance. It can also affect your overall oral health.
- Increased risk of periodontal disease
- Teeth become loose from too much pressure when biting or chewing
- Risk of tooth loss and need for restoration or replacement
- Tooth sensitivity
- Failure of prior restorative treatments
- Headaches and jaw pain
What are the symptoms of occlusal trauma?
A bad bite can cause a range of uncomfortable symptoms, while other signs of malocclusion may be noticed by your dentist:
- Wear or fractures of teeth
- Tooth sensitivity
- Tooth movement, or hypermobility
- Vibration when biting down
- Noncarious lesions on teeth
- Bone loss caused by occlusal trauma
- Headaches, facial pain or fatigue, often the most common symptoms
How is malocclusion treated?
There are several possible treatments for malocclusion. To restore a proper bite, your dentist will determine the correct treatment for you depending on the specifics of your particular case.
- Occlusal equilibration. Chewing and biting surfaces are ground to achieve proper alignment. This reduces pressure on individual teeth and the risk of weakening or contaminating teeth.
- Occlusal restoration. In some cases, misaligned teeth may be replaced or reconstructed.
- Jaw repositioners. Similar to braces, these are appliances that you wear to gradually achieve the correct jaw position.
- Orthognathic surgery. This type of surgery is performed to correct alignment of the jaw and achieve bite correction.
Are you experiencing symptoms that could be caused by an improper bite?
Schedule an appointment with Dr. Davis or Matthews today. We’ll examine your teeth and recommend the best treatment to help you smile healthy!