Posted September 12, 2014.
Understanding the importance of your occlusion
Your bite, or occlusion, is simply the position of your jaw when your teeth are together. Seems like a fairly basic idea, but your occlusion is very important and can affect your health in many ways.
Until recently, most dentistry has been based on the assumption that wherever your bite was naturally was the correct position. Today, most dental treatments are still planned from the patient’s existing occlusion. Because this jaw position may be a reasonably good position, and because our body system is often adaptable to less than ideal circumstances, many of these procedures have acceptable results. However, there are also many times that treatment procedures carried out with “textbook” accuracy do not produce a result that is fully functional and comfortable for the patient.
Understanding “BITE” Basics
Usually, we don’t think about moving our jaw or about how it’s done-we just do it. When most people think of their bite, they think of their teeth. However, there is a whole system that controls the positioning of the jaw which involves our muscles, joints and posture.
The Role of the Muscles
Different muscles come into play for posturing the jaw, opening and closing the jaw (biting or chewing), and swallowing. The muscles that open your jaw are n your neck. The muscles the “posture” your jaw, or keep it from falling open are rather delicate muscles that extend from the jaw upward through the cheeks and into the forehead area-even around behind the ear to some extent. If your natural teeth don’t fit together properly, your muscles may accommodate, forcing the jaw to close on a path that stresses and fatigues the muscles over time. This pts the jaw in a position where the teeth are close to occlusion, but at the same time prevents the muscles from being relaxed whey they should be.
The Role of the Joints
The jaw is able to move since it operates on a joint called the temporamandibular joint, its name the basis for the often heard term “TMJ”. If the muscles are accommodating holding the jaw joint in an abnormal position, negatively affecting its function, negatively affecting its function. Frequently this results in the disc being pinched between the “ball” and “socket” of the jaw. As the “pinched” disc releases, it results in the joint popping or clicking. This sound is often obvious to you and is a sign of abnormal joint function that may in turn be related to your bite.
The Role of Posture
Posture can also play a significant role in your occlusion. The jaw could be considered one end of your inter-related skeleton, with the feet being the other end. If any part of the skeletal system is affected, it may in turn affect other parts of the system. You can experience this by lightly touching your teeth together, taking care to note which teeth first touch. Then tilt your head back as far as you comfortably can and repeat the process. Don’t be surprised if the teeth first touch in a different location now. You have altered the balance of the skeleton (and your bite) by simply changing your head posture. Now we are beginning to see that the bite is far more complicated than just the way the teeth fit together!
Musculoskeletal signs and symptoms can include headaches, jaw joint pain, jaw clicking, limited mouth opening, ear congestion, dizziness, ringing in the ears, difficulty swallowing, clenching or grinding, facial pain, neck pain, hot & cold sensitivity of teeth and neck pain. If you feel you are suffering with any of these symptoms please call us at Bull Valley Dentistry—we are here to help you! 1-815-344-2264.