Bite, also known as occlusion, is the manner in which the upper and lower teeth come together when your jaws are closed. Although very few individuals have perfect occlusion, many of us are capable of adapting to imperfect occlusion. However, when occlusion becomes unstable to the point that our human body cannot tolerate, clinical signs and symptoms will appear and the underlying cause(s) of the unstable bite needs to be addressed.
Clinical signs and symptoms of unstable and destructive occlusion are as follows:
- fracture teeth
- chipped teeth
- wear facet of teeth
- broken dental restorations
- tooth mobility
- tenderness of tooth upon touch, percussion or biting/chewing
- tenderness of muscles of the jaw and/or jaw joint (temporomandibular joint, TMJ)
Bite (occlusal) adjustment refers to the treatment in which the individual’s bite is being equilibrated so that when the opposing teeth comes together or when teeth slide by one another there will harmony with minimal interferences, leading to a decrease in clinical signs and symptoms of unstable and destructive bite.
Occlusal appliances are devices customized to help protect the teeth, muscles and jaw joints in individuals who have destructive bite and/or parafunctional habits such as grinding and clenching. Usually, occlusal appliances are given to patients after their bites have been adjusted. Occlusal appliances are sometimes used in conjunction to the treatment of gum disease to reduce worsening of bone loss around teeth. Night guards can be specifically designed to be occlusal appliances.