If you’ve ever had a filling, you know an important part of the process is checking your “bite” (occlusion) to make sure that your repaired tooth fits or “harmonizes” with the rest of your teeth and optimizes the function of your jaw joints (temporomandibular joints or “TMJs”). When a bite is not harmonized it can cause issues for teeth and TMJs alike, including severe tooth wear and strained or damaged muscles or cartilage in the joints. Chronic bite imbalance can be caused by issues such as a hereditary tooth misalignment, trauma, tooth loss, or a combination of factors. While we can adapt to a measure of malocclusion (misalignment), our mouth always functions best when our joints and teeth are perfectly aligned, placing minimal stress on the function of our bite.
When you are experiencing symptoms that point to bite issues, such as TMD or excessive tooth wear, Dr. McArdle will perform an occlusal analysis to identify any issues. An occlusal adjustment is the process of identifying areas of interference and selectively adjusting them with a special dental drill to reduce a tooth’s profile or dental materials (bonding or caps) to augment when additional support is needed.
For bite issues which can’t be resolved by an adjustment or when the adjustment required would not be practical, there are other ways to address the issue. The next line of recommended treatment would be orthodontics (braces); surgical repositioning of the jaw is considered a last option. Both procedures are normally followed by an occlusal adjustment, as both measures produce a less precise correction.