A Guide to Dental Occlusion

We’re warning you – some of the content of this article you may find hard to believe. You may think that the medical community has become slightly disengaged from reality. Or you may simply think that some of this is just pure fiction.

But we can promise you that everything written here is in accordance with the latest medical evidence and some of the most advanced treatment methods available. So here it goes:

Did you know that back pain can be caused by the way your teeth align?

No? That’s not surprising, because not many people usually make the link. However, there is a growing understanding that issues with your teeth can affect a wide range of pains, from back ache to earache, from dizziness to pain in the face, neck and shoulders. And you thought the only problem your teeth could cause you was toothache? How wrong you were.

So how do we explain this? How exactly can your teeth cause your back pain? Doctors and dentists now believe that many of these aches and pains are caused by the way your teeth bite together, otherwise known as your dental occlusion.

If your occlusion is slightly misaligned, this can put extra pressure on your jawbone. This is the aspect that doctors are now beginning to understand in much greater detail. The jaw is a very complex part of the body. It has an astonishingly complicated network of muscles and tendons, which you use every single day to talk, chew, sing, yawn, cough, and show a whole range of diverse facial expressions.

As you can imagine therefore, with such a complex instrument as the jaw, which is in constant daily use and put under a whole variety of different stresses and strains, the slightest misalignment can cause any number of different issues. Using the latest diagnostic techniques, doctors are now much better equipped to explore how misalignments – or malocclusions – put additional stress onto other parts of the body.

Of course, very few of us have perfect teeth and slight misalignments are very common – usually they do not cause any obvious pain or discomfort. If you grind your teeth at night, find that your teeth are becoming very worn or you suffer from a sore jaw in the mornings, these may be indications that you have a misalignment. Alternatively, receding gums, cracked and split teeth or front teeth that do not meet also indicate that pressures a malocclusion may be present.

If you have some pain that you believe may be caused by a malocclusion, the first step in your diagnosis should be a conversation with your dentist or doctor. There are a number of treatment available to misaligned jaws. However, it is important that the relevant steps are taken to ensure that your pain does not have a different cause that needs a different type of treatment, for example, disease. Your dentist can take X-rays or use vibration analysis techniques to investigate any issues with how your teeth and jaw are aligned.

Once a malocclusion has been diagnosed, there are a number of different treatments that your dentist could recommend. Usually, the type of treatment recommended will depend where exactly in your bite the stresses are, and also how badly damaged or worn your teeth are.

Some individuals may only need the edges of their teeth shaped to provide a better fit. This technique is called occlusal equilibration and it is usually suitable for minor cases where just a few teeth are causing relatively minor issues.

If the issue is more acute, your dentist can take measures to restore your bite. This restoration work will depend on the current condition of the patient’s teeth, so each case will be entirely individual. Crowns, bridges and implants are often used to repair damaged teeth.

Finally, if the teeth are in good condition but the bite structure is very poor, the patient may require some orthodontic work. This involves long-term treatment, usually using braces, the move the teeth into the correct position. Over recent years, orthodontic treatments have become very advanced, much faster and much more aesthetically focused.