On paper, occlusal disease might not seem like the most frightening disease, but, according to most people are shocked to hear that occlusal disease is often among the most calamitous foes of human dentition, as its implicit and destructive damage is more often than not unrecognized according to Neuromuscular Dentistry professionals. In turn, this leads to an overwhelming amount of patients believing that the wear and decay of their teeth is completely normal.
Before diving deeper into the stages of occlusal disease, let’s first examine its core to better identity and define not only its recognizable features, but also how to combat it.
Neuromuscular Dentistry: What is Occlusal Disease?
Occlusal disease is commonly referred to as the detrimental process that results from a bite in which the top and bottom teeth are not aligned properly. Occlusal disease can be caused by a number of habitual acts, though it is often associated with teeth grinding, an unbalanced bite and even crooked teeth. Despite being the most undiagnosed oral disease, occlusal disease is incredibly common among the public, but if not discovered early can lead to a destructive outcome.
Diagnosing Occlusal Disease
While occlusal disease commonly goes undiagnosed, it can easily be identified through an extensive dental and medical examination. A licensed dentist will often begin the examination process by searching for signs and symptoms of occlusal disease in the top and bottom teeth bite, TMJ (jaw joint), as well as the head and neck muscle of the body. Likewise, the dentist will refer and review a patient’s previous dental history and records to reveal any signs of occlusal disease. It might seem redundant at times, but preventing occlusal disease from becoming a major issue starts with a proper and thorough examination.
Signs and Symptoms of Occlusal Disease
Here are a few of the more prominent signs and symptoms of occlusal disease. Remember, it’s better to be safe than sorry, so be sure to consult with a professionally licensed dentist if you are worried that you may have contracted occlusal disease.
- Tooth sensitivity to hot and/or cold food/liquid
- Head and neck muscle pain
- Chipped, thinned, flattened or cracked teeth
- Fractured previous dental work (fillings/crowns)
- Gum recession
- Loosening of teeth
- Grinding/clenching of teeth throughout the day/night
- Jaw pain – popping, clicking or locking of jaw while eating or other jaw movements
Treatment of Occlusal Disease
Sadly, occlusal disease is not 100% curable, but there are still a number of ways to control and manage it through proper treatment. As such, the first and utmost step is preventative treatment. Should you decide to consult with a professional dentist, they will work with you to educate and provide you with the needed resources to better protect yourself from occlusal disease. Education of the matter at hand is the first and foremost step in preventative treatment, while also helping to provide stronger clinical success for both aesthetic and restorative treatment.
For patients who have already been diagnosed with occlusal disease there are often more examinations to adhere to which include an advanced clinical occlusal analysis, along with a comprehensive TMJ assessment. One of the more common and initial treatments is to utilize a nightguard as a preventative measure to help decline the rate of damage caused by occlusal disease.
Neuromuscular Dentistry Final Thoughts
Make no mistake about it, occlusal disease is known to impair normal and daily functions through its destructive tendencies. Be sure to ask your dentist to do a proper examination during their normal dental routine check-up, as that should help to recognize any early signs or symptoms of occlusal disease. Should your dentist diagnose you with occlusal disease it’s important to follow their guidelines and procedures on conservative occlusal therapy by adhering to nightguards.
If you’re curious to learn more on occlusal disease or would like help scheduling an appointment to speak with a professionally licensed dentist, please contact the expert team at Shallowford Dental today!