When your bite isn’t right, life can get frustrating and even painful. We bite hundreds of times every day, and having a bad bite can feel similar to walking for miles with a rock in your shoe. Even small imperfections can have a dramatic impact over time.
“Occlusion” is the dental term we use to describe the way your upper and lower jaw fit together. Your mouth can occlude when chewing or resting, and if your bite is not connecting properly, we call it “occlusal disease” or “malocclusion.” A simpler term, of course, is to call it a “bad bite.”
Fortunately, at Bragg Dental we offer occlusal adjustments through a simple process that involves minor polishing of the enamel surfaces or small changes to fillings. In this article, we’ll explore the cause, signs, symptoms, and treatment of occlusal disease so that you can ensure your bite is right.
What causes bad occlusion?
Your jaw is a very strong muscle, and chewing can generate forces as high as several hundred pounds of force per square inch. If your teeth do not bite down evenly, all of that force can land on a single tooth. Your jaw muscles might need to overcompensate, creating imbalance and soreness in your jaw.
Bad bite can be caused by many things:
- Grinding your teeth at night
- Chipping a tooth
- Past fillings or dental work
- Missing teeth
- The constant pressure you put on your teeth while chewing over the years
- Loose, crowded, or shifting teeth
Essentially, occlusal disease occurs when your body attempts to optimize your bite, despite the imperfections listed above. Regardless of the cause, occlusal disease can lead to some serious problems.
It’s important to recognize when you might need an adjustment.
Signs you might require an occlusal adjustment
There are several signs that indicate you might require an occlusal adjustment.
- One common indicator occurs in the morning. If you wake up and have a sore jaw, you might need an occlusal adjustment.
- Another sign occurs when you bite down. Does one side of your mouth connect before the other? Does one tooth touch before the rest or feel sensitive when you bite? If your bite isn’t even, all the pressure can focus on one area, when it should spread out over your entire jaw. While it may not hurt every time you bite, that extra bit of force from the collision will, overtime, start to cause problems in your mouth or jaw.
If you aren’t sure your bite is right, we are always available to have a look and determine if an occlusal adjustment is required. It’s important to keep your bite healthy and we can help.
Problems caused by occlusal disease
Occlusal disease can create many problems when left untreated. For instance, your teeth can chip because of the excessive force a specific tooth receives. In the same way, occlusal disease is the most common reason for dental restorations to fail. Over time, restorations like fillings are more likely to crack from the extra pressure.
Many patients with occlusal imperfections also complain about discomfort in their jaw muscles and TMJ (temporomandibular joint) issues, which impacts the joint that enables chewing. This discomfort can become extremely painful when not treated, causing headaches, migraines, sinus pressure, and even pain in the neck or shoulder.
Furthermore, receding gums can become worse with a faulty bite. It can even cause sleep disorders like snoring or sleep apnea.
Fortunately, there is treatment available, and it is relatively simple.
Treating a bad bite with an occlusal adjustment
In many cases, a bad bite can be fixed through minor modifications to the surface of your teeth. The procedure is similar to trimming a fingernail. When your fingernail breaks at a point or grows in such a way that it causes discomfort, you simply remove part of the nail to make it even again. It isn’t a painful process and neither is an occlusal adjustment.
- We simply identify the part of your bite that is causing the discomfort and remove it, either by polishing a small amount of enamel or adjusting an existing filling. This procedure rarely causes any sensitivity and small adjustments can make a big difference.
- The ultimate goal is to create a harmonious relationship between your teeth. Typically, we work to distribute the pressure of your bite across multiple teeth, creating broad contacts that protect your teeth.
- Once balance is restored to your mouth, many of the symptoms from occlusal disease will fade away, reducing headaches and future damage to your teeth.
How do I get my bite right?
If you think you need an occlusal adjustment, give us a call or contact us today to set up an appointment with our dental office in Cumming, GA. Your bite is very important to both your eating and resting, so don’t settle for one that causes you pain or could lead to greater problems in the future.
We’d love to see you, and both Dr. Bragg and Dr. Moody can help redistribute and redirect the biting forces to ensure your bite is right.