When Dental
Excellence Matters

July 21, 2021

Should I Treat A Bite Discrepancy?

What Issues Arise When Your Teeth Do Not Meet Properly, Which Is Called Malocclusion Or A Bite Discrepancy?  Malocclusion Can Be Minor Or Major.  Malocclusion Is A Common Occurrence As Evidenced By The High Percentage Of People Who Need Orthodontic Treatment.  Some People Get Headaches, Neck Pain, Jaw Pain And Tooth Pain From Bite Discrepancies.  When Teeth, Muscles Of The Jaw And Or The Jaw Joint Hurt One Of The Things To Check Is The Bite.  I Have Been Part Of Several Courses On Occlusion, The Way The Teeth Come Together, As Both A Participant And Visiting Faculty.  Occlusion Is A Core Concept In Dentistry And Is Taught Early In Dental School And Continues In Advanced Post-Doctoral Programs.

Some Headaches And Neck Pain Are Associated With Malocclusion. When The Teeth Do Not Correctly Hit Each Other The Jaw Muscles Try To Move The Jaw To A More Acceptable Position, This Can Over Activate These Muscles. Due To Over Activation The Muscles Become Fatigued And Painful. The Muscles That Control Jaw Movement A Large Area Of The Head And Are Common Painful Triggers For Headache And Neck Pain Suffers.

Malocclusion Can Cause Tooth Pain From Teeth Hitting Too Hard On One Or More Points Of Contact Causing The Nerves In And Around The Tooth Or Teeth To Become Hypersensitive. Long Standing Hard Contacts Can Lead To Cracks, Fractures And Excessive Wear On Teeth.

Jaw Pain Can Arise In The Jaw Joint (Temporomandibular Joint, TMJ). The Jaw Joint Is A Unique Joint In Our Body. The Lower Jaw Is Held Up Against The Upper Jaw By Muscles. It Is Located On The Left And Right Sides Of The Head Just In Front Of The Ear Canals. There Is A Piece Of Cartilage In TM Joint Space To Make Rotation Of The Lower Jaw Easy And Smooth. Trauma Or Long-Standing Malocclusion May Contribute To TMJ Pain And Disorders. It Is Not Uncommon To Have Popping And Clicking Noises In The Joints. These Noises Are From A Malposition Of The Cartilage In The Joint Usually Caused By Trauma.

Large Discrepancies In The Bite Can Sometimes Be Treated With Orthodontic Therapy (Braces Or Clear Aligners) Or A Combination Of Orthodontic And Surgical Treatment. Minor Discrepancies Can Be Treated With Bite Adjustments (Recontouring A Tooth Or Teeth).

Some Bite Discrepancies Require Splint Therapy. Splints, Sometimes Called Night Guards, Are Hard Acrylic Pieces Made To Fit Over The Teeth That Can Be Made For Upper Or Lower Teeth. The Splint Distributes The Bite Forces Evenly And Keeps Any One Area From Being Hit Too Hard While Also Balancing The Muscle Forces For More Even Use. Splints Are Particularly Useful With Acute Pain And For Long-Term Management Of TMJ Pain.

Proper Diagnosis And Treatment Of Bite Discrepancies Is Important To Long-Term Health. If You Dentist Points Out A Problem, It Is Best To Address It Before Pain Or Irreversible Damage Occurs.

Dr. Robert A. Gallegos Is A Fellow In The Academy Of General Dentistry, Visiting Faculty At Spear Education, Alumnus Of Pankey Institute, A Member The American Academy Of Cosmetic Dentistry, The American Academy Of Dental Sleep Medicine And The American Dental Association. Dr. Gallegos Practices Dentistry In Middleburg, VA. Www.MiddleburgSmiles.Com.

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