Dental Occlusion (Bite Alignment) in Seattle
Proper Tooth Alignment Is a Necessity
Teeth provide far more than serving as the center of a beautiful smile. Occlusion, or how your teeth come together when biting, is of paramount importance to enjoying life. Without occlusion, your ability to eat and smile confidently is severely impaired. Dr. Darrin Rapoport understands occlusion from a number of vantage points, given his history as a general dentist and implant specialist, and can restore your bite for maximum function.
Why Is Occlusion Important?
Occlusion is everything. From proper chewing function to oral comfort and implant health, occlusion plays a vital role in nearly every aspect relating to your mouth. Problems with occlusion lead to certain oral risks, such as:
- Jaw joint pain
- Muscle problems
- Bite issues
- Wear on tooth surfaces
- Chips or breaks in restorations
- Fractured, broken or loose teeth
- Fractured broken or loose implants
Protect Your Implants From an Imbalanced Bite
It is important to ensure your implants are successful, which may require services like occlusal adjustments or occlusal guards. Dr. Rapoport begins by evaluating and treating any systemic issues contributing to occlusal problems, treating you as a whole rather than tooth-by-tooth.
Tooth replacement is the number one reason patients visit Dr. Rapoport. As such, occlusion plays a key role in implant success, but it often ignored. Establishing ideal occlusion is dynamic, and may require multiple adjustments over years to maintain. We foster a long-term relationship to ensure your implants remain healthy as time progresses. A leading implant dentist and rated one of Seattle Metropolitan Magazine’s Top Dentists four years straight, Dr. Rapoport is the expert to turn to for occlusal issues threatening your implants.
Types of bites
There are several types of dental occlusion, including:
Overbite: This type of malocclusion is characterized by upper teeth that protrude from the lower teeth.
Underbite: Underbite occurs when the upper teeth are too far behind the lower teeth.
Overcrowding: This common condition occurs when teeth become bunched, crooked, and overlapped due to a lack of space.
What causes changes in occlusion?
The alignment of your teeth can be impacted by many factors. Your teeth may be too big or you may not have enough space in your mouth for all of your teeth, leading to overcrowding and misalignment. Additionally, you may have lost a tooth or had one or more extracted, which caused your other teeth to shift. An example would be if you developed malocclusion after wisdom teeth removal. Also, your bite may have become misaligned if you sucked your thumb regularly as a child or engaged in other activities that affect alignment, such as tongue thrusting and prolonged pacifier use. Malocclusion can also be the result of a genetic condition that affects the jaw, meaning it was unpreventable. Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, may also cause dental misalignment.
What are malocclusion classes?
Malocclusion has three classes:
Class 1: Patients with this common form of malocclusion have a normal bite, but the upper front teeth may stick out from the lower teeth slightly.
Class 2: Also referred to as overbite, this class describes the condition where the upper teeth extend beyond the bottom teeth.
Class 3: This sort of misalignment occurs when the lower teeth appear to extend out beyond the upper teeth.
What are the treatment options?
If you suffer from malocclusion, you can rest assured that there are treatment options available to you.
Braces: These dental appliances can be placed on the teeth to reposition teeth and gradually bring them into alignment, all while helping to reshape the underlying bone structure to produce a permanent shift. Tooth aligners have a similar effect in that they result in your teeth shifting into proper alignment over time.
Tooth extraction: Sometimes, teeth overcrowding may be treated by removing one or more teeth. This increases the space in your mouth and may help address overlapping.
Selective tooth repair: If your Pacific Northwest Periodontics dentist determines that your issues with occlusion can be improved by repairing individual teeth, they may opt to reshape or resize the problem teeth only.
Dental surgery: Surgery can be a solution for some cases of malocclusion as it can help address inherited jaw conditions. Surgery can include reshaping and stabilizing the jaw.
Does it require treatment?
Malocclusion, if left untreated, can lead to several negative effects. You may experience difficulty chewing or biting into food correctly. Overcrowding can make it hard to access areas between teeth, making flossing and brushing much less effective, which can increase the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. You may also have challenges with your speech, including the development of lisps. Mouth breathing, snoring, and other conditions can appear if the malocclusion is not treated.
It is important to seek treatment for issues with occlusion, especially since misalignment issues are generally easier to treat in cases of early intervention.