Benefits of Cometic Dentistry; Bite Analysis and Correction (Part 2)
In Part 1 of our previously published article, Bite Dysfunction, we talked about the fact that cosmetic dentistry is more than just creating a pretty smile. It is imperative that the teeth, jaw, and muscles function together as a unit. To achieve stability, health and comfort, all of these components must operate in harmony. If any one of these is out of balance, the entire system will be affected. This is called malocclusion or bite dysfunction. If bite dysfunction exists in the mouth, it is important to restore the form, function and health of the mouth. To accurately diagnose a bite dysfunction, an oclussal analysis is essential. An accredited cosmetic dentist is highly trained and experienced in diagnosing and treating patients that suffer from bite dysfunction.
Warning signs of bite dysfunction:
- Cracked of broken teeth
- Worn teeth
- Sore or stiff jaw muscles
- Facial pain
- Pain while chewing
- Lose teeth
- Clicking or popping in the jaw
- Uncomfortable bite
- Gum recession
If you suspect that bite dysfunction exists within your mouth, you should consult with a cosmetic dentist. An occlusal analysis (analysis of the bite) should be performed to determine whether or not the bite is stable or unstable and causing damage. Occlusion is a dental term that describes the way our teeth touch when they are closed together. Each tooth has a specific shape which allows it to fit together with the opposing teeth. In proper occlusion teeth, jaw, and muscle all work together free of disease, pain and trauma. A dentist must first determine what is “normal” for a particular patient. Normal for one individual is not necessarily normal for another. How an upper and lower jaw fit together is determined not only by the the relationship of the teeth, but also by the joint and muscles. An instrument called an articulator is used early on in the process to determine where and how occlusal forces occur in a patient’s bite. If malocclusion (bad bite) is present, correction is necessary to regain balance and good health within the mouth.
When should an occlusal analysis be performed?
- Before crown, bridge, denture or implant treatment
- Before fabrication of any bite gaurd
- Before and after orthodontic treatment
- When there is evidence that a poor bite may be contibuting to:
- Worn or broken teeth
- Gum recession, sensitivity at the gum line
- Facial muscle pain
- Loose teeth, bone loss associated with gum disease
If malocclusion has been detected it MUST be treated! Occlusal correction is often overlooked by dentists or put off by many patients until the damage is so extensive that th only way to resolve the issue is with full mouth reconstruction. Occlusal correction changes or corrects the shape and/or position of the biting surface of the teeth to allow the jaw joints to function in their most biologically natural and comfortable positions. There are several techniques for occlusal correction. They include reshaping of the teeth, restorative dental work, orthodontics, and occlusal splint therapy.
Selective reshaping is a method by which the biting surfaces of the teeth are reshaped by selective tooth reduction to obtain the desired bite relationship. In this procedure, a minimal amount of tooth structure is removed to restore the teeth to better form and function.
Restorative dental work is required when teeth are missing, damaged, decayed or misshapen. The use of crowns, bridges, implants, or partial dentures may be necessary to restore proper bite function.
Orthodontics is the movement of teeth by use of braces or removable appliances such as retainers to adjust the position of the teeth.
Occlusal splint therapy incorporates the use of a removable hard, clear plastic appliance to temporarily stabilize the bite. This is done to stop the destructive effects of clenching, and/or to alleviate muscle and joint pain. Treatment to correct a poor bite may follow.
Ignoring the warning signs of bite dysfunction may lead to irreversible damage to your teeth, gums, and bone. By performing a proper analysis of your bite an accredited cosmetic dentist can devise a plan that will minimize or prevent most of these problems. Our goal is to help our patients maintain a healthy mouth and a stable bite that will last you a lifetime.