Making the Bite Right

By Catherine M. Fascilla, D.D.S.

Your upper and lower teeth should come together properly so you can chew your food well. Every time a new restoration is placed, whether it be a simple filling, a single crown or a lengthy bridge, the bite must be carefully checked and adjusted by your dentist. You should never leave the dental office feeling uncomfortable. A patient who has recently had their teeth straightened may also require some occlusal adjustment.

Missing teeth, faulty restorations, and certain habits may cause upper and lower teeth to occlude (come together) incorrectly. An incorrect bite may cause people to grind their teeth. Muscle tenderness, joint soreness and headaches often result.

Adjustment or careful grinding of your teeth by the dentist will help balance your occlusion. This selective grinding is called occlusal equilibration. The purpose is to get all of your teeth touch at the same time when you bite.

An occlusal equilibration is done with the help of a small piece of carbon paper. Biting on the blue or red paper will produce markings on the teeth that contact each other. Those contact areas are carefully reduced allowing more teeth to occlude. The procedure is repeated until all of the teeth make better contact and the bite feels balanced. Your dentist may also take impressions of your teeth so that study models may be examined from all sides.

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