The manner in which your teeth come together and how well you chew is known as your 'bite'. Occlusion is the study of the bite and malocclusion basically means you have an imbalanced or malfunctioning bite with high spots and interferences.
Problems with your bite can result from missing teeth, crowding of or spaces between your teeth, over or under developed jaw bones, and improper eruptions of teeth resulting in crossbites, overbites or underbites.
Bite issues if left unaddressed can lead to further problems including tooth wear and breakage, tooth loss and infection, and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction. The short version of this is TMD which basically means malfunction of the jaw joint. This can lead to:
- Wearing of the tissues, ligaments and bone in the jaw joint
- Grinding and clenching of your teeth during the day or at night and
- Clicking, popping and pain in the joint itself
If you have any of these symptoms, you should see a dentist who can give you proper support and make a clear appliance that you can wear to help protect your teeth and lessen the pain in the jaw joint. In more extreme cases of crowding, braces are sometimes called for.
The other issue with the bite is recent dental work which may be too high. Even if you don't feel it while at the dental office a high spot may become noticeable later on. High spots are not only a nuisance but they can also produce pain and soreness in the tooth that was just worked on. This pain usually will not go away until it is adjusted and may even hurt enough for you and your dentist to think you may need a root canal.
So make sure your dentist is careful with adjusting your bite while you are in the office and gets you right in again if there is any pain or discomfort in the tooth lasting more than a couple of days. It may very well be the bite. You don't want to cause a root canal if the problem is as simple as adjusting the filling or crown you recently had placed.
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