Occlusion (dentistry)


Occlusion (dentistry)

Occlusion, in a dental context, means simply the contact between teeth. More technically, it is the relationship between the maxillary (upper) and mandibular (lower) teeth when they approach each other, as occurs during chewing or at rest.

Malocclusion is the misalignment of teeth and jaws, or more simply, a "bad bite". Malocclusion can cause number of health and dental problems.

Static occlusion refers to contact between teeth when the jaw is closed and stationary, while dynamic occlusion refers to occlusal contacts made when the jaw is moving, as with chewing.

Centric occlusion is the occlusion of opposing teeth when the mandible is in centric relation. Centric occlusion is the first tooth contact and may or may not coincide with maximum intercuspation. It is also referred to as a person's habitual bite, bite of convenience, or intercuspation position (ICP). Centric relation, not to be confused with centric occlusion, is a relationship between the upper and lower jaw.

Occlusal problems

Malocclusion can cause a number of problems, not just with teeth, but with gums, the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), and jaw muscles. Teeth, fillings, and crowns may wear, break, or loosen, and teeth may be tender or ache. Receding gums can be exacerbated by a faulty bite. TMJ problems, broadly termed temporomandibular joint disorder or TMJ syndrome, can include clicking, grinding, or pain in the jaw joint, ringing or buzzing in the ears, and difficulty opening and closing the mouth. If the jaw is mispositioned, jaw muscles may have to work harder, which can lead to fatigue and or muscle spasms. This in turn can lead to headaches or migraines, eye or sinus pain, and pain in the neck, shoulder, or even back. Untreated damaging malocclusion can lead to occlusal trauma.

Some of the treatments for different occlusal problems include tooth adjustments, replacement of teeth, medication (usually temporary), a diet of softer foods, and relaxation therapy for stress-related clenching. Fixed appliances, known as orthodontic or dental braces, may be used to adjust the occlusion, and removable appliances, called occlusal splints, may be used for adjustment as well as for other purposes.

See also

References