Dental occlusion is the term used to describe how the teeth and dental arches make contact with each other when a patient closes together or bites down.
In a good bite – the top teeth (maxillary) will sit a little over the bottom teeth (mandibular) and the back molars, like a jigsaw puzzle should fit together providing comfortable chewing and biting. When the bite is not aligned properly known as a misaligned bite or ‘malocclusion’, patients can suffer from a number of issues that can lead to long term problems if not properly treated and resolved.
Do I Have an Occlusion Problem?
It is very common for those with occlusion issues to be suffering with related pain in their mouths, teeth and gums but to be unaware that these issues are related to their misalignment. This can lead to a lot of unnecessary pain and discomfort which can be fixed using one of several treatment methods depending on their teeth.
Indicators of a misaligned bite can include;
- Overcrowded teeth
- Under bite
- When biting down the edges of the front teeth are touching
Symptoms of Occlusal Issues
Having a misaligned bite can often cause a number of problems for patients including things such as jaw pain, teeth grinding, pain and tenderness, worn down teeth, gum disease and even tooth loss.
Some symptoms of malocclusion can include;
Crooked teeth – If a patient has teeth that are uneven or crooked or maybe have problems with crowns and fillings constantly breaking or coming loose then a misaligned bite may be the issue. It can also cause tenderness in the teeth and gums when eating or biting down or a constant aching feeling.
Jaw Problems – Crunching, clicking or grinding of the jaw as well as uncomfortable jaw pain and difficulty opening the mouth could be an indicator that there are issues with the teeth’s alignment.
Grinding – This frequently goes unnoticed with most patients who are unaware they grind their teeth at all due it to most commonly happening whilst they sleep. If a patient wakes up often with a stiff jaw, tenderness of the teeth and gums or pain when biting then these could be a tell-tale sign that they are grinding their teeth together at night.
Loose or Missing Teeth – A misaligned bite can be made significantly worse by loose teeth and if there are teeth missing from the back of the mouth then the end result can be an unbalanced bite.
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder – Also known as TMD this commonly results in headaches, neck and shoulder pain as a result of the jaw problems. In addition to this regular discomfort and pain around the side of the face near the ears and jaw area can also be symptoms of a misaligned bite.
Dental Occlusion – Treatment
Our experts will thoroughly examine and evaluate a patient’s teeth as well as the functionality and health of their whole mouth before recommending the best treatment plan to achieve a healthy and pain free bite.
The type of treatment will depend on the individual patient and their teeth but some of the occlusion treatments frequently used include;
- Teeth Straightening – This orthodontic treatment can be extremely beneficial in some cases in order to correct the out of line teeth by moving them into a new position in order to achieve a well-balanced bite.
- A Mouth / Bite Guard – This is typically worn at night in order to help prevent patients from grinding their teeth or to prevent any damage that can occur when they do.
- Tooth Adjustments – Sculpting, recontouring or changing the position or direction of troublesome teeth can help to correct alignment issues.
- Replacement Teeth –The temporo-mandibular joint needs equal support from both sides of the jaw and missing teeth can cause misalignment and uneven distribution of pressure and bite force. Using bridges or partial dentures, missing teeth can be easily replaced to help resolve the problem.
- Medication – Medication can provide some short term relief for patient but in the long term, dental treatment is the only suitable option.
How Much Does Occlusal Treatment Cost?
As with all dental treatments, the overall price will depend on the individual patient, their teeth and their treatment plan.
Some aspects of treatment are available on the NHS and there are referral pathways to specialist hospital services available if needed.
If you are interested in an occlusal assessment with one of our skilled clinicians, then contact us today and one of our friendly team will be able to help you get started on your journey to a healthy, pain free smile.