When you first visit a new dentist, part of your initial exam is an assessment of your “bite” – the way teeth meet as the jaws close. Later, after a filling or placement of a dental crown, your bite will be tested again to be sure the tooth restoration fits well with other teeth. Nearly all dental patients have “been there.” And there’s good reason for this attention to bite.
Chewing, tooth wear and joint function all depend on the balanced opposition of teeth in each jaw. Any disruption of a good bite, either by broken, loose, or lost teeth, is trouble in need of repair. In the worst-case scenario – the jaws themselves present skeletal problems – orthodontic treatment is considered. However, most malocclusions (“bad bites”) are treatable right in your dentist’s office.
Your dentist will first locate ill-fitting teeth by routine bite analysis. You will bite down on a sheet of special paper that marks teeth with uneven wear. If this doesn’t tell your dentist enough, he or she may take impressions, from which study models are built. This gives your dentist a very visual demonstration of what’s wrong.
High points in enamel that interfere with normal contact may be filed away. Eroded fillings call for replacements. Lost teeth need a bridge or dental implants to prevent opposing teeth from overgrowth. There are any number of solutions to a bad bite, all important to your dental health.
Anytime you notice a change in your chewing habits, or feel more pressure than usual on a solitary tooth, bring it to your dentist’s attention. You’ll notice the abnormality, maybe before your dentist detects it. Since you’ll be working together, tell your dentist your suspicions and, if it’s broken, it can be fixed.