NORMAL OCCLUSION – FIND OUT ITS CHARACTERISTICS AND HOW TO KEEP IT
No one can be sure what their teeth are going to look like or what the teeth of their children will look like. It is possible to keep them clean and in good condition, but the shape of the jaw and location of the teeth is beyond the control of everyone but a dental professional. When looking at the teeth and mouth, the term occlusion is used. It is a way to describe the how the mouth opens and closes and how the upper and lower teeth sit together. Very few people will have a perfect one, but it is only when it is very poor that you decide it needs to be dealt with.
A normal occlusion was described by Edward H Angle in 1899 and explained that the lower and upper molars were in a position that allowed the teeth to be arranged in a line that was perfectly curved. Previously he had made us away of a malocclusion and over the years, others have built upon his analysis. In 1992, there was a further description given of normal occlusion and this was slightly less than perfect. It was described as a position that left the person with no aesthetic or functional issues. This description came on top of the views of Andrews from 1972, naming the characteristics that all patients who were considered to have normal occlusion possessed. They were:
- Molar relationships
- The right inclination and angulation of the crown
- No teeth were in the wrong position or were set at the incorrect angle.
- Proximal points should all be tight
- Occlusal plane must be flat – curve of Spee showing a curve of no more than 1.5mm
A toothache can be one of the worst pains in the world, but what many people do not know is that the lay out of the teeth can determine whether or not you have pain in other areas. Back pain is one such issue that may be better sorted out by a visit to a dentist than a visit to the chiropractor. More understandable are the facial pains that are linked back to the teeth.
The reason for this is the way your teeth are set in the jaws. Dentists and doctors are in agreement when they say that it is the bite that is the issue. If the teeth are not in the right place, the problems will start, and a way will have to be found to get them where they should be. The medical name given to the way that the teeth sit together is your “dental occlusion.”Any misalignment of the occlusion is going to put pressure on the jaws and the tendons and muscles. The skin covering determines how easily you can eat correctly, cough and show any form of emotion via the facial features.
As the problems that can be caused when the jaws do not work correctly are immense, it is vital that the dentist can provide a normal occlusion as often as possible. Even the slightest improvement can make day to day living much easier and more enjoyable. In some of the worst cases it will be really noticeable, as well as function and appearance will be affected. When it is extreme, this can make you feel uncomfortable and also a target for unkind comments. With advances in medicine, doctors are finding new problems caused by a less than normal occlusion every single day – and dentists are finding ways to deal with them.
HOW TO KNOW IF YOU DO NOT HAVE A NORMAL OCCLUSION
If you are lucky, then the lack of normal occlusion will not be too noticeable; so, there will have to be other ways to find out if you have one. One indication will be grinding the teeth at night. This will bring its own issues so that issue needs to be dealt with. Further indications will be that the teeth can split without there being a specific force that caused it, or that the gums are starting to recede. Bacteria can be the cause of this, as can other issues with oral hygiene, but if you have a normal occlusion you should be less at risk.
Once the doctor has become involved, you will be on the way to having your teeth realigned. There will be tests undergone, and these are vital to ensure that the cause is the alignment of the teeth and not some other form of complaint or disease. Usually it will be vibration techniques and x-rays that are used to give the dentist and doctor a clear view of what is going on. Once they have a clear picture of the teeth they will be able to decide which treatment they will carry out. They will make the decision depending on a variety of issues:
- How worn out are the teeth – There may be the need for other treatment before they start to set the teeth right.
- Where the problems are – If they are at the back of the mouth, the treatment will be different than if the teeth causing the problems are at the front.
If you don’t have much of an issue, it will only be superficial treatment that has to be carried out. Occlusal equilibration can be carried out and this will be a short and sweet treatment. Only the edges of the teeth will have to be reshaped and it is considered to be a minor procedure. When there is more work that has to be carried out, each case will have to be looked at individually. Age will play a part, as will the way the teeth have been treated over the years. Sometimes it will be a bridge or a crown that is used as this will repair a damaged tooth and make it fit into its place in the mouth much more easily.
When the issue is purely the location of the teeth, it is an orthodontist that will be needed. They will carry out all of the treatment that needs to be done before and after braces are fitted. Over a period of time, they will move the teeth into the position that they are supposed to be in. It will not take as long as it used to do as dental techniques have improved and good results can be obtained quite quickly. You will now have a normal occlusion and lovely smile.