There are several reasons why you might have an occlusal issue with your teeth but before we explain them, it’s important to understand what is meant by occlusion.
Dental occlusion Essex describes the way your teeth meet when you bite them together. Your teeth should come together in such a way that your bite functions correctly. When your jaw’s muscles and joints work together in the right way, you have a healthy occlusion, i.e. your bite is as it should be.
However, if your muscles and joints in your jaw aren’t working in the right way, such as an abnormal shape to the arch, the lower front teeth are leaning toward the tongue or the upper arch is underdeveloped, it creates a misaligned bite known as malocclusion. This is something that many people live with for a long period of time, causing discomfort and pain, but it is treatable.
Causes of malocclusion
There might be a number of different reasons why you have a misaligned bite:
*Crowded teeth – this is usually a genetic issue in that you may have a mouth that is too small for all your teeth. This causes your teeth to grow at different angles as they jostle for space. Other causes could be growing extra adult teeth, losing baby teeth early, as well as growing larger or irregular teeth, so your teeth are crowded together.
*Overbite – this is when there is a horizontal gap, or vertical overlap, between the top and bottom front teeth, i.e. your top teeth are in front of your lower teeth. This is a fairly common problem that can be corrected.
*Under bite – this is when the lower jaw sits in front of the upper jaw when your back teeth are closed. An under bite can get worse as children get older due to their normal growth spurts but does settle in the mid to late teenage years. However, if an under bite isn’t corrected, it may mean your teeth are exposed to excessive wear which can cause stress on the jaw’s joints.
*Touching front teeth when biting down – whilst you’re front teeth should touch when biting into something, they should not be touching when your jaw is relaxed. If the front teeth do touch and cause pain, there could be an abscess, or you have a misaligned bite.
Symptoms of occlusion
An occlusal issue can result in a variety of problems which often cause pain and can even lead to tooth loss. Some symptoms of occlusion include:
*Crooked, well-worn teeth, broken, fractured fillings and loose crowns are associated with a misaligned bite.
*Loose and missing teeth can be caused by a misaligned as well as an unbalanced bite.
*A jaw that clicks or crunches, which can also be painful, or if you have trouble opening or closing your mouth can be a result of a misaligned bite.
*Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD) is a disjointed jaw so, if you are experiencing headaches or pain in your shoulders and/or neck, or around the side of your face, ears and jaw joints, it could be because of an occlusal problem.
You may also find that grinding teeth, which usually happens when you are asleep and you may not even be aware of it, can be down to a misaligned bite. If you find that you jaw is stiff, uncomfortable or painful, it may well be because you grind or clench your teeth together overnight.
The good news is that it is possible to correct an occlusal problem through a range of techniques, including tooth adjustment, straightening or replacement, as well as using a bite guard.