Case of the Month

 

 

 
Occlusal Adjustment

Do you wake in the morning with sore jaws?

When you bite, do you feel like your jaw is lopsided or uneven? If so, then you may need an occlusal adjustment.

An occlusal adjustment corrects the alignment of the bite, that can result from habits such as clenching or grinding, dental crowding, loose or shifting, crowded, or missing teeth. Most people don’t know their dental bite is dynamic and changes as we age. The result is an evenly distributed bite that eliminates excessive pressure on one tooth, one side of the mouth or even the Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ). Once your bite is adjusted, your teeth will meet more evenly. Occlusal adjustment involves surface reshaping of the teeth. The adjustment is made by using a dental polishing bur. In addition to the actual adjustment sometimes a removable mouthpiece is suggested if it is suspected the patient clenches or grinds their teeth to protect the teeth, and decompress the Jaw Joint resulting in more relaxed jaw muscles.

Who is a good candidate for an occlusal adjustment? Patients with periodontal disease, loose or shifting teeth, dental recession of the gums, headaches, TMJ issues, sore facial muscles are among the most common patients an occlusal adjustment is perfomed for. Patients, who grind or clench their teeth, will often times have an uneven bite and excessive pressure distribution in the mouth causing excessive tooth wear and damage to the surrounding jaw bone, facial muscles and the jaw joint. Sometimes tooth sensitivity can be corrected through an occlusal adjustment as the treatment reduces pressure on the sensitive tooth.

New technology called the T-Scan now can assist dentists to accurately identify the areas, which need adjustments. The dentist utilizes a computer scan of the mouth, which records hundreds of bite registrations per minute, and notes even the slightest irregularity. That data allows the dentist to make only the adjustments that are needed, which ensures a well aligned bite and minimal tooth wear.

If you suspect that you may have the symptoms described above you may need to be evaluated for an occlusal adjustment.