Novato General Dentist Explains Dental Bite

Written by Dr. McConnell on Jun 6, 2012

If you have gone to your dentist for fillings, crowns, bridges or other restorative dentistry, you have most likely heard the dentist talk about your “bite”. You probably already know your bite refers to the position your upper and lower teeth take when you bite down. You may have had to bite down on a colored piece of paper that leaves a mark on your teeth. This helps guide your Novato General Dentist so that we can eliminate high spots on your dental restoration that will impact your bite.

But why is a dental bite (or occlusion) so important, and why does your dentist spend so much time trying to get it just right?

What is Dental Occlusion?

Dental Occlusion (also referred to as dental bite) refers to the way your upper and lower teeth come into contact with each other.  It relates to the alignment of top and bottom teeth whether you are chewing or at rest. The concern in dentistry is whether or not this alignment is healthy.

There are different types of occlusion, (or dental bite):

Static occlusion: The way your teeth fit together when your jaw is at rest 

Centric Occlusion: The way in which your teeth fit together when your jaw is closed. The focus of Centric Occlusion is the alignment of your upper and lower teeth when you bite down.

Malocclusion:  Occurs when your teeth do not align properly and do not fit together in the right way.

Malocclusion can cause under bites, overbites, and cross bites.

Malocclusion (misaligned dental bite) can cause serious problems. It can cause your dental restorations to wear out or break. Malocclusion also causes receding gums, aches in the teeth and Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) problems which result in grinding and severe pain in the joint. Because of the unnecessary force on the jaw, patients with malocclusion may develop fatigue in the muscles that can lead to sinus problems, neck and shoulder pain, and headaches.

How is malocclusion treated?
Once your problem is diagnosed, your dentist will determine what the best course of treatment is for your specific case. It may involve orthodontics or dental restorations such as crowns. Other solutions may be sought if your dentist finds that you are grinding your teeth at night (bruxism). In some cases the teeth may need to be reshaped. Orthodontics may be used to reposition your teeth in the case of TMJ problems.

It is important to communicate with the team at Family Dentistry in Novato, CA and let them know the type of problems you are experiencing with your bite and if you are suffering from any other pain in your head or neck you feel may be related.