Dental Occlusion: What is it, and Why is it Important?
You may have heard one of our dentists, or perhaps a dentist elsewhere, allude to the word “occlusion” at some time or another, yet you may not have known exactly what the term meant. In dentistry, occlusion refers to the way in which the upper and lower teeth approach and/or make contact with each other. To put it simply: It’s your bite.
Occlusion is one of the first things we evaluate when you come in for a visit, typically right after assessing your medical history and periodontal (gum) health. If occlusion is off, meaning your bite is misaligned or certain teeth touch before the rest, a number of issues can often ensue, including:
- Muscle soreness (particularly along the jawbone)
- Bruxism (teeth clenching and grinding)
- Tooth fractures
- Loosening of teeth
- Damage to tooth restorations
- Gum recession
In addition to its relation to these issues, healthy occlusion is often imperative to administering the most effective progression of dental treatments. For example, I recently had a patient in my office whose front tooth was extremely loose. After a thorough evaluation, my team and I discovered that she was also experiencing some gum recession and a bit of bone loss caused by her bite being off, consequently resulting in her tooth’s insecurity. Once we adjusted the occlusion, her tooth became considerably tighter. A few more procedures will eventually be necessary to correct the problem completely, but had we not adjusted the occlusion first, we would not have been able to progress with her treatment in the most effective order.
As you can see, dental occlusion is very important in the grand scheme of oral health, and really health in general for that matter. In fact, we find it so important that members of our team, myself included, will be attending the upcoming Yankee Dental Conference in Boston from January 29th – February 1st in order to take a course on treatment planning and occlusion. The course is presented by the Pankey Institute – both educators and leaders in occlusion – and I look forward to furthering my education on addressing occlusion prior to other treatments, as well as phasing dental treatments in order to achieve better results.
– Dr. Margarita Panajoti, Complete Health Dentist
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For more information about occlusion or the upcoming Yankee Dental Conference, please feel free to contact our office today.