What is an Occlusal Adjustment?

Dental Patient Putting In A Night Guard

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When you close your mouth, your top teeth should evenly touch your bottom teeth. All top teeth should touch the bottom teeth at the same time and with equal pressure. Your top teeth should fit slightly over your bottom teeth. If some teeth touch harder than others, or are not properly aligned with each other, your “bite” may be imperfect.

The dental term for an imperfect bite is malocclusion. A malocclusion may cause serious and life-long problems if left uncorrected. An occlusal adjustment corrects the malocclusion and repairs the bite for normal chewing and prevents a multitude of dental disorders. 


Problems resulting from or causing a malocclusion

A malocclusion that is left uncorrected may lead to serious problems. Some examples include:

  • Chipping and fracturing of teeth
  • Loose or missing teeth
  • Too many teeth
  • Mild tooth pain progressing to severe pain and need for a root canal
  • Teeth sensitive to heat and cold
  • Teeth becoming crowded and cracked
  • Worsening of periodontal disease
  • Bone recession
  • Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) problems
  • Teeth grinding or clenching, often at night while sleeping, which puts pressure on teeth, damages them and causes bite problems
  • Clicking noise when opening and closing your jaw
  • Trauma
  • Nerve or muscle disorders or damage
  • Damage to dental implants or dentures

In addition to symptoms and causes that you may directly relate to your mouth, gums or teeth, you may also suffer:

  • Headaches, which may not seem serious unless they are migraines which can easily become debilitating. You may not associate headaches with your bite problem.
  • You may constantly feel like your jaws are tired.
  • You may have muscle spasms in your neck or face.
  • Your face may be sensitive to touch and/or temperature.
  • The condition and appearance of your teeth may keep you from smiling.

Overview of an occlusal adjustment and how it can help

An occlusal adjustment treats the problem that is causing the unhealthy bite. The specific treatment depends on the cause and symptoms of the bite problem.

  1. Reshaping the biting surfaces of the teeth: This involves drilling and filing the misshapen or uneven and rough surfaces of the tooth. This may involve reshaping one tooth or many teeth. Your dentist will check your bite until the teeth have been reshaped and come together correctly when you bite down.
  2. Reconstruction: The dentist will repair broken and cracked teeth and fill cavities. In some cases, old fillings may need to be removed and replaced with new ones. You may need one or more crowns or your dentist may use bonding agents for repairing damaged teeth. The purpose is to do everything that needs to be done to restore your teeth and your bite to a healthy status.
  3. Splints or night guards: Your dentist will take impressions of your mouth so the splints or night guards can be made specifically to fit in your mouth and according to your teeth and what needs to be done to align them. Although most guards are worn at night to keep teeth in alignment and to prevent grinding or clenching, some may also be worn during the daytime. Guards are also used for those suffering from TMJ problems and pain.
  4. Orthodontic treatment with braces and retainers: This realigns and repositions the teeth


Do you have more questions?

No matter what treatment you experience, you need regular visits to your dentist to be sure no further treatment is needed. Your teeth continue to move as you age even though the movement is so slight you will not notice it. Your dentist will monitor your bite and be able to institute treatment before the problem worsens. Contact our doctors, Dr. Richard CavenDr. Shelby Denman, and Dr. Stephen Carpenter, by calling our Caven Dental office in Jacksonville, FL, to schedule a consultation today!

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