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Occlusal Equilibration

Occlusal equilibration is a term used in dentistry to discuss the adjustment of the bite relationship. The mandible or lower jaw is a “u-shaped” bone which has joints of the bone. When the jaw system is functioning properly, the lower jaw is able to freely hinge at the joints and close together with the lower teeth contacting the upper teeth very evenly all the way around the arch. This creates a “solid bite”. When there is a discrepancy in the bite relationship to the fully seated joints, then problems can develop. Very often, the jaw will have to shift in order to fully close the teeth all the way together. This shifting of the jaw creates a stress at the joint level. Very often we will see manifestations of this shifting whereby muscle tenderness develops in the jaw system, clenching and grinding of the teeth often occurs, joint discomfort at times will occur along with signs of instability in the bite relationship which include wear of teeth, looseness of teeth, chipping of teeth, etc.

When these signs of instability are found as we examine your mouth, we consider occlusal equilibration as a possible remedy. We study the bite relationship by way of mounted-diagnostic study models, determining if adjustment of the biting surfaces of the teeth will correct the problem. Once studied, we can proceed with adjusting your bite relationship to re-establish harmony in the biting system. We do this by selectively reshaping the biting surfaces of individual teeth, which may be interfering with the proper joint/bite relationship. By making these corrective changes, we are able to establish a harmonious and stable system, eliminating the destructive forces previously present. If you look in the photos you can see the benefit to equilibration. The tooth with all of the blue marks is taking too much force. It is being pushed in different directions on the slopes of the tooth. This will make it wear or crack. The gums will recede and the muscles of the face will be overactive, causing headaches or weakness in the jaw. Many people with these needs can only chew a half-peice of gum or have difficulty eating steak due to jaw fatigue. The other picture shows marks of even intensity on all the teeth. In addition the teeth are moving in one direction: up and down and not side to side. Also look at how much less stress the tooth is having without such broad marks being present.

Our goal in this therapy is to allow the joints to fully seat, the muscles to relax and the teeth to fully meet together at the proper position and function properly in movement. Establishing this stability in the system can prevent many problems that are serious in nature. These include:

  • Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD)
  • Muscle-tension headaches
  • Severe wear of your natural teeth, as well as loose teeth
  • Chipping teeth
  • Gum recession and other associated problems
  • Grooves forming an exposed root surface

We will discuss with you in detail our findings of your individual needs and why we are recommending occlusal equilibrium.