Occlusal Problems in Charlbury, Oxfordshire

Charlbury Dental Practice
The Spendlove Centre, Enstone Road, Charlbury, Oxfordshire OX7 3PQ

General Dentistry » occlusal problems

‘Dental occlusion’ is a technical term for the way your teeth meet when your jaws bite together. Dentists may talk about occlusal or bite problems.

Have I got occlusal problems?

If your teeth don’t fit together properly, you can have problems not only with your teeth but also with your gums, your jaw joints or the muscles that move your jaw.

  • If you have teeth that are crooked, heavily worn or are constantly breaking, fillings that fracture, or crowns that work loose, you may have occlusal problems. Also your teeth may be tender to bite on or may ache constantly.
  • Loose teeth or receding gums can be made worse by a faulty bite.
  • Clicking, crunching, or pain in your jaw joints, and difficulty or pain on opening or closing your mouth, could be due to your teeth not meeting each other properly.
  • If your jaw is in the wrong position the muscles that move the jaw have to work a lot harder and can get tired; this leads to muscle spasm which can cause pain in your head, neck and shoulders.

What symptoms may I have?

You may find that you clench or grind your teeth, although most people who do aren’t aware of it. Most people who grind their teeth do it while they are asleep. If you wake up in the morning with a stiff jaw or tenderness when you bite together, this could be due to clenching or grinding your teeth in your sleep.

If you suffer from headaches, or neck and shoulder pain, this may be linked with possible jaw problems. If you keep having pain or discomfort on the side of your face around your ears or jaw joints or difficulty in moving your jaw, these may be symptomatic of problems with your jaw joint.

If you are missing some teeth at the back of your mouth, this may lead to an unbalanced bite which can cause uneven pressure on your teeth.

What is TMJ syndrome?

The letters TMJ stand for of ‘temporo-mandibular joint’ which is the joint connecting your lower jaw and your skull. The movement in this joint lets you open and close your mouth and chew from side to side. Together, all the above symptoms are called ‘TMJ syndrome’ or TMD, temporo-mandibular disorders.

How are occlusal problems treated?

If your dentist suspects that your problems are due to an incorrect bite, they may help to diagnose the problem by supplying a simple bite-guard which stops you grinding your teeth, or a balanced splint which fits over either your upper or lower teeth. Each appliance needs to be measured and fitted very accurately so that when you bite on it, all your teeth meet at exactly the same time in a position where your muscles are relaxed. You may have to wear the appliance all the time or just at night. If it relieves your symptoms then your bite may need to be corrected permanently.

  • Tooth adjustment (equilibration)
    Your teeth may need to be carefully adjusted to meet evenly. Changing the direction and position of the slopes that guide your teeth together can often help to reposition the jaw.
  • Teeth straightening
    If your teeth are too far out of line or in a totally incorrect bite position, it may be necessary to fit an orthodontic appliance to move them into a better position.
  • Replacement of teeth
    The temporo-mandibular joint needs equal support from both sides of both jaws. The chewing action is designed to work properly only when all your teeth are present and in the correct position. Missing teeth may need to be replaced either with a partial denture or bridgework. Replacement is not usually done until a diagnosis has been confirmed by using an appliance and this has fully relieved the symptoms. Relief in some patients is instant but in others it can take a long time.
  • Medication
    Some drugs can help but the relief is usually only temporary. Hormone replacement therapy may help some women.
  • Diet and exercise
    As with any joint pain, these can help to put less stress on the joint. So a soft diet can be helpful, as can corrective exercises and external heat. Physiotherapy exercises can help and your dentist will be able to show some of these to you.
  • Relaxation
    Counselling and relaxation therapy may help in some cases. These techniques help you to become more aware of stressful situations and to control tension.

How many people suffer from these problems?

Up to 1 in 4 people may have some symptoms. Both men and women are affected equally. The symptoms can often start with hormonal changes such as the menopause.

Many people have imperfect occlusion and missing teeth yet never have symptoms. Occasionally, in times of increased stress and tension, the symptoms may appear and then go away immediately. Some people suffer with:

« Back to General Dentistry