How your teeth fit together is called your “bite” – the technical term is occlusion. If your bite is “off” or “uneven” or “mis-aligned,” it can be the cause of serious problems. Tooth alignment is an important component of your dental health and even affects your overall health.
This dental mis-alignment is also called malocclusion. It’s a very common cause of tooth and jaw pain, and temperature sensitivity. It’s true that the most common dental problems are tooth decay and gum disease, but malocclusions can cause additional pain and damage.
Here are some things to think about if you think your bite may be off, and malocclusion may be causing or contributing to tooth or jaw pain, sensitivity or discomfort:
•Does your jaw hurt when you bite down? If so, there may be a relationship between your bite and your temporomandibular jaw joint (TMJ). The pain may be associated with a structural disorder, but frequently the pain originates in the muscles that move your jaw as they attempt to accommodate a malocclusion.
•Does clenching your teeth cause pain? Clenching is a sign of malocclusion and also a good way to find out if a new crown or filling is too “high.” If your bite is on the mark, you should be able to bite hard and grind your teeth together in all directions without discomfort.
•Do your teeth seem to be wearing away? Severe tooth wear is a sign that your bite is not spot on. If all the enamel on the biting edges of your teeth wears away, you will see a darker colored surface (the dentin) which wears down much faster than tooth enamel. This can be damaging when it involves your front teeth – especially your lower front teeth. Correcting your bite may prevent further wearing away.
What’s the take-away? If you think you may have a problem with your bite or are experiencing tooth or jaw pain, call to schedule a consultation appointment with Dr. Holbrook. He can observe the relationship of your teeth and bite, and recommend necessary procedures: (505) 881-1159.