Occlusal Disease a destructive process that effects the teeth, gums, muscles and jaw joints, as a consequence of occlusal (bite) disharmony or involuntary teeth grinding. If left undiagnosed and untreated it can lead to severe damage to your teeth, supporting gums and bone, jaw muscles and jaw joint (temporomandibular joint). It is as costly to the teeth and gums as decay and periodontal disease.
As an occlusion dentist for over 30 years, Dr.Moreau has seen the devastating effects that this often overlooked and ‘silent oral disease can have on a person’s mouth and life. Many patients dismiss this disease as a ‘natural wearing or aging’ of teeth or just the result of stress in their lives. Upon routine evaluations Dr. Moreau will exam for any signs of occlusal disease and look for the ‘three golden rules of occlusion. He will advise you of the risks of foregoing treatment as well as treatment recommendations.
What are causes of occlusal disease?
There are two key components in occlusal disease; the presence of an unbalanced bite and involuntary hyperfunction (parafunction) of the chewing muscles. An unbalanced bite combined with involuntary clenching or grinding of the teeth damages the teeth, gums and bone to eventual tooth loss or TMJ disease. In much the same way a set of tires that are not properly aligned wear faster, an unbalanced bite can lead to abnormal tooth wear. Abnormal teeth grinding can also create limited bite opening and movements, popping noises or pain in the jaw joint. The human bite is capable of generating forces measuring almost 1000 pounds per square inch so a lot of destruction can be created in the mouth.
Signs and symptoms of occlusal disease?
- worn, chipped or cracked teeth
- hypersensitive teeth to hot and cold
- loosening of teeth
- localized bone loss around teeth
- abfractions (wedge-shaped notches on the teeth at the gumline)
- gum recession
- chewing pain in the teeth or in the jaw joint
- popping noises in the jaw joint in front of the ear
- limited jaw opening or movement
- headaches and/or facial muscle pain
- dental work that breaks
- fremitus (slight movement of teeth upon tapping the teeth together)
Occlusal Disease Treatment
Before any treatment plan can be established a thorough evaluation of your bite is conducted and in some circumstances a more detailed analysis of your bite should be performed with the aid of diagnostic study models of your teeth. Occlusal disease treatment options may include:
- minor to full mouth tooth equilibration (selective reshaping of surfaces of the teeth that are out of alignment
- occlusal splints (night guards or day time guards)
- orthodontic realignment of the teeth
- restorative procedures to realign and reestablish a proper bite relationship
- physical therapy to establish proper muscle function
Can Occlusal Disease be cured?
Occlusal disease is often a chronic condition that cannot be permanently eliminated because it often has a stress management component associated with it. However, occlusal disease can be managed or controlled so that pain and long-term damage can be eliminated.