Occlusion

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In an ideal occlusion (bite), the back teeth meet evenly and the forces generated by the jaw muscles are directed down the long axis of the teeth. Additionally, as you chew (and move the jaw), the guidance provided by the slopes on the palatal surfaces of the upper teeth is designed to separate the back teeth. So when you chew, the maximum biting force is applied to the back teeth, but when you move the jaw, the back teeth are separated by the guidance provided by the front teeth; this is described as a mutually protective occlusion.

A Lucia jig can provide some relief in the short term, however, on occasions, we may need to consider an occlusal splint in the medium term. An occlusal splint is constructed from clear acrylic and fits onto the occlusal (biting) of either the upper or lower teeth, and provides an ideal occlusion. The splint will help to reduce the spasm in the muscles and help you re-establish the “relaxed muscle position”.

At this stage we need to consider the options for establishing the freedom of movement:

  • Occlusal equilibration – in cases where the occlusal interferences are relatively minor, it may be possible to carefully adjust the teeth.
  • Coronal restorations – in some cases full coverage crowns may be required to provide the required guidance.
  • Orthodontics – in more extreme cases orthodontics may be required to move the teeth into the correct position.
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