Very few people in the world have what dentists consider a perfect bite. You can have a bite that is not perfect and that is still quite healthy. A bite is considered to be healthy when all or most of the teeth are present and the bite functions with all the protective mechanisms intact. This means that the bite does not destroy itself with normal daily function. A bite is considered to be pathologic or destructive when the signs of tooth wear, mobility (looseness) or TMJ (jaw joint) damage is seen.
Few people are blessed with what dentists would consider a “perfect bite.” Every time you bite, you put up to 500 lbs of pressure per square inch on your jaw and teeth. If your bite is not properly aligned, this can put undue stress on the structure of your mouth. Over time, this can wear down or chip teeth, create sensitivity in teeth or gums, worsen periodontal disease, cause tooth loss, damage bridges or implants, create tender muscles or headaches, and even contribute to gum or bone recession.
Bite therapy helps to counteract the damage a pathologic bite is causing in the mouth and jaw. With the help of your Pittsburgh periodontist, you may undergo treatment including:
- Bite readjustment through reshaping and eliminating problem areas when the teeth come in contact with each other
- Bite splint therapy that uses a guard to separate the teeth to prevent damage
- Orthodontic treatment (braces) to realign and reposition teeth
- Replacement of fillings or other tooth restorations
- Tooth reconstruction if the teeth are old, worn, or heavily damaged
The Seven Signs and Symptoms
Often patients do not realize that they need treatment for their bite because they are used to it, as problematic as it is. However, to avoid the problems associated with an unhealthy bite, treatment is often necessary, and you should learn to spot the signs. There are 7 signs and symptoms used to diagnose occlusal disease.
- Wear and fractures in teeth and restorations.
- Cervical dentin hypersensitivity. This is sharp pain associated with chemical or thermal stimuli.
- Tooth hypermobility. Some patients experience excessive mobility due to the pressure from the misaligned bite.
- Tooth fremitus. Fremitus is when a tooth vibrates when the mouth is closed.
- Abfractions. This is tooth tissue loss along the gum line not caused by decay, often caused by excessive pressure on the tooth.
- Bone loss or destruction.
- Painful and tired masticatory muscles or TMJ pain.
Understanding Occlusal Adjustment
Occlusal adjustment is a common treatment to fix bite problems. The enamel is gently polished and reshaped to redistribute biting forces. This procedure involves minimal pain and is often performed without dental anesthesia.
Another common treatment for occlusal disease is an occlusal splint. A occlusal splint is a plastic mouth guard customized to fit a patient’s mouth to help prevent damage to your teeth from bruxism, or clenching and grinding. This prevents fractures, shifting or loose teeth, gum and bone recession, sensitivity, tender muscles, and more. The splint is either worn day and night or just as a nighttime treatment. There are many types of splints including full coverage splints, mandibular splints, anterior deprogrammers, etc. Each splint is custom made for the ideal material, thickness, and size to best help individual patients.
If you have any of the signs of an unhealthy bite, or would like us to check, contact us today. At the Silberg Center for Dental Science, we want to make sure your mouth is at its best to keep you healthy and pain-free.