Everyone's bite is unique, and the way everyone's teeth fit together is different. We usually consider someone's bite to be healthy when they have the majority of their teeth present, and the teeth are not extremely weakened by any trauma or wear and tear.
What causes a change in the bite?
The causes of a shifting bite include the following:
Time: As one ages, their lips will become tighter and smaller. This can put pressure on the teeth, leading to teeth crowding and changes in dental alignment.
Tooth Loss: When someone loses their tooth, the remaining natural teeth will shift towards the space and negatively affect the bite.
Periodontal Disease: Periodontitis or severe gum infection can lead to gum shrinkage and bone loss, causing tooth loss and teeth misalignment.
Genetics: Genetics and genetic disorders like cleft lip or palate can affect one's bite by altering the dental structure.
Injury or Trauma: Traumatic dental injuries like fractures, subluxation, and avulsion can lead to teeth misalignment and change in the bite.
Though an imperfect bite cannot lead to the onset of periodontal disease, problems related to the bite, like a missing, worn down, or loose tooth, can worsen the existing condition. Changes to the bite can also affect temporomandibular joints, which are responsible for the movement of the lower jaw. A slight change in one's bite can lay additional stress on this joint, causing pain in the jaw joints, headaches, and neck and shoulder pain.
Here are the major indicators that one might need an occlusal adjustment:
- tooth movement
- difference in bite
- grinding or clenching teeth
- tightness in the jaw
- headaches near the jaw area or eye
- tooth sensitivity
An occlusal adjustment is performed to correct the alignment of one's bite to result in an equally distributed bite. This helps eliminate the additional or irregular pressure on one side of the mouth alone.
It is important to adjust one's bite to correct the fit of the teeth, and it can be done in several different ways.
Reshaping Tooth Surfaces
This is done by reshaping the biting surfaces of the teeth after identifying the high points on the teeth and removing these high points. This process allows equal distribution of forces created during chewing, thus reducing the pressure on the teeth.
A bite splint is fitted over the upper teeth and is usually worn during the night to prevent the teeth from getting into contact. This allows the movement of the jaw to a relaxed position, relaxing the joints and muscles.
Replacing Old Fillings or Restorations
Sometimes, bite adjustments can be made by replacing restorations like worn-out fillings or dental crowns. Replacing fillings when they become old can help preserve the natural tooth beneath the filling from further damage or decay.
Orthodontic treatments can be helpful to correctly reposition those teeth that have drifted out of position.
Restoring Damaged or Worn Teeth
If your bite has been altered because of the damaged or worn down teeth as a result of teeth grinding or clenching, restoring the teeth with dental bonding, fillings, or dental crowns can correct your bite.
Muscle relaxers or anti-inflammatory medicines can give relief for tight jaw muscles.