Signs & Symptoms of Occlusal Disease

Symptoms

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We find wear on the biting surface of teeth. Teeth are covered with enamel which is the hardest surface in the body. Once the enamel is worn through the dentin, which is the next tooth layer and softer than enamel, is exposed and wears away faster. This can often be seen when the front teeth wear and look smaller in appearance or back teeth wear and become flat.
Teeth can become loose and move, can become sensitive oftentimes to thermal changes such as hot and cold, can become sore to biting and teeth are more susceptible to fractures.

The muscles, which work the jaws, can become sore and painful. Headaches are a very common complaint. The jaws joints themselves can become symptomatic. You may notice noise such as popping and clicking during eating or jaw movement is common and in some cases pain in the joint is observed.

What happens if untreated?

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If occlusal disease is not treated the problems will slowly get worse over time. Ultimately the teeth wear out prematurely and may be lost. Muscle and jaw problems can continue to cause discomfort. The complexity and cost of treatment increases dramatically.

Loss of hard tooth tissue

1. Attrition: teeth repeatedly rubbing against each other

2. Erosion: acid eating away at the teeth

3. Abrasion: extraneous objects repeatedly rubbing against the teeth. Most often this is seen on the neck area of the teeth close to the gum-line and is due to traumatic "scrubbing" toothbrushing technique, but it can also be due to things like opposing tooth crowns, pens, needles etc.

4. Abfraction: When a tooth is occlusally overloaded, the flexion around the neck can cause stress fractures of the outer layer (enamel) of the tooth.

5. It’s important to realize that the outer layer of the tooth (the enamel) is much harder than the inner dentin and root surface. Once the outer layer is rubbed or eroded off, the damage to the tooth will progress much more quickly.

Splayed/flared front teeth with spaces between the teeth

Loss of posterior tooth height will lead to the forward positioning of the lower jaw in order to try and establish posterior contact. This will push the upper anterior teeth forward and create the flared appearance.

Cracking of the teeth

Mobility of the teeth

Pain in the tooth when biting

Overloaded teeth can cause compression of the ligament around the tooth and even the blood- and nerve supply to the tooth.

Oversensitivity to cold and warm foods

Pain in the muscles of mastication and even migraines