Dental occlusion is the coming together of teeth: a meeting of two surfaces made of the hardest material in your body - and the movement of those surfaces against each other. You probably haven't given much thought to making those surfaces do either of those things because, for most of us, it just happens naturally.
Thankfully, your brain can coordinate 32 teeth and dozens of muscles into a harmonious movement without you worrying about it. When you're enjoying dinner with your favourite person, this is an excellent thing. If you are grinding your teeth away, it's not the best, and you could be setting yourself up for occlusal disease.
Your teeth were designed to last a lifetime, but some things can get in the way of that happening. Three main diseases are responsible for negatively affecting your teeth:
- decay or cavities
- periodontal or gum disease
- occlusal disease - the destruction of teeth
Most of us are intimately acquainted with the signs, symptoms and treatment of the first two, either through personal experience or by being informed about them at the dentist. In dental school, all dentists are trained to diagnose and treat tooth decay and periodontal disease. Fewer dentists, however, have been trained to foresee the potential of occlusal disease. Your experienced HBDS dentist can identify and recommend appropriate treatment to minimize the effects of these diseases by dealing with them as early as possible.
Occlusal disease, the unhealthy or destructive pushing of the teeth against each other, tends to get less attention. It is often indicative of an underlying problem, and because the damage generally progresses slowly, people often dismiss the signs of destruction as being 'normal'.
An obvious injury, like a broken tooth, often belies the underlying cause. A variety of symptoms such as wear, sensitivity, cracks, loose teeth, breaking teeth, sore muscles, painful jaw joints, headaches, acid reflux, breathing disorders, sleep apnoea and more can be associated with occlusal disease.
Understanding tooth destruction
Your HBSD dentist has invested considerable time into developing the ability to recognize the signs of occlusal disease and can provide or recommend appropriate treatment to halt, and often reverse its effects. Identifying occlusal disease as early as possible increases the probability that you will keep your natural teeth and have youthful teeth as you age.
Not many years ago, most senior citizens wore partials or dentures today, that number is a small fraction of what it used to be. Since fewer people suffer the loss of their teeth today, we see the effects of the occlusal disease in an ever-increasing number of adults. If we address the underlying problems in the early stages, we can often avoid many of the restorations and repairs that become necessary for adults.
Silent signs of occlusal disease
The interaction of tooth against tooth can cause painful symptoms such as those noted above. Still, the real dangers are the underlying causes and the changes that produce effects that are not immediately and readily apparent to you. Whether or not you experience any pain, the damage to teeth and the progression of the underlying cause are as problematic as a painful injury. Our bodies adapt to the things we do and often fail to alert us until something is so damaged or broken that it can be difficult to restore things to health.
Your HBDS dentist routinely incorporates an evaluation of the signs and symptoms of occlusal disease into every comprehensive and periodic examination you have with us. He or she knows the importance of providing you with information about what's happening today that will impact your teeth in the future.
Keeping your teeth in maximum comfort, function, and aesthetics for your entire life depends on us working together to see and address the signs and symptoms of the disease processes that work against that goal. Failure to address them has a profound impact on your overall health and enjoyment of life.