At our dental office in Modesto, we’re often asked what certain technical dental terms mean, and we’re always happy to explain them. Which brings us to the topic of the day: Occlusion. What is occlusion? What are we looking at when we talk about it? Why does it matter? We’re glad you asked!
Occlusion is a simply a fancy name to describe the relationship between the way your upper teeth connect with your lower teeth when you chew, bite, or clench down. More commonly, occlusion is explained as your bite.
What Are We Looking At?
When your dentist in Modesto is evaluating your bite, he or she is looking for any areas where the two sets of teeth don’t line up well. A healthy bite is important for proper chewing, and if a bite is “bad,” the force placed on teeth isn’t distributed evenly. This can lead to several problems and the need for restorations or long-term treatment.
How Does a Bite Become “Bad?”
There are times when people develop a bad bite as they lose their baby teeth and their permanent ones erupt. Most commonly, these are classified as overbites, underbites, or crossbites (more on these in a minute). Other individuals see a shift in their once good bite as they get older thanks to accidents, clenching or grinding, or as a result of teeth shifting when a permanent tooth is lost and not replaced.
Signs of a Bad Bite
There aren’t one or two concrete signs of malocclusion (another fancy dental term used to say bad bite). In fact, there are several symptoms that may indicate an issue including:
- Excessive wear on tooth enamel
- Broken or chipped teeth
- Tooth loss
- Head or neck pain
- Pain in the jaw joint
- Upper teeth that fall behind the lower teeth when the mouth is closed (underbite)
- Top teeth that cover most or all of the bottom front teeth while biting (overbite)
If you’re experiencing any of these signs, we encourage you to call our dental office in Modesto. Treatment to correct a bite varies from person to person, so it’s best to evaluate your individual situation and recommend a personalized plan.