What’s Occlusion and Should You Worry About it?

woman and dentist examine xrayYou may have heard us talk about your “occlusion” during your visits to our dental office in Lewisburg. But what exactly are we talking about when we speak about occlusion? Is it something you should worried about? Let’s take a closer look at what occlusion means and examine a few concerns that are related to it.

What is Occlusion?

Occlusion is just a fancy, scientific name dentists use to describe the bite, or how the upper teeth match up against the lower teeth when the mouth is closed or while chewing. You may have heard several ways we tend to classify a “bad bite” including overbite or underbite. All of these types of occlusion can lead to unique problems that should be corrected by a dental professional.

In More Detail: Crossbites, Overbites, and Underbites

There are a variety of bite problems that happen, but in this blog we’re going to examine the three most common.

  • Crossbite
    • Signs: A crossbite is usually suspected when one or more of the upper teeth fall behind the lower teeth when the mouth is closed.
    • If left untreated: Crossbites can lead to premature wear and tear of the teeth, gum disease, bone loss, asymmetrical jaw development, and jaw problems (known as TMJ or TMD).
  • Overbite
    • Signs: When the mouth is closed and the molars are touching, if the front top teeth completely cover the bottom front teeth, there’s a good chance an overbite is to be blamed.
    • If left untreated: An untreated overbite can inhibit teeth from functioning properly, leave the person at increased risk for gum disease and other gum problems, and wear down the front teeth.
  • Underbite
    • Signs: Opposite of an overbite, an underbite is when the lower teeth fall in front of the top teeth when biting.
    • If left untreated: Underbites usually result from either undergrowth of the upper jaw, overgrowth of the lower jaw, or both. If not corrected, teeth may not be able to function properly and can lead to painful TMJ/TMD issues.

If you suspect any potential issues with your bite, we welcome you to call our Lewisburg dental office to schedule an appointment. We would be happy to help you to determine what, if any, treatment would be appropriate to correct the bite for a healthy, pain-free smile that lasts a lifetime.

Accepting new patients from Lewisburg, Selinsgrove, Williamsport

“Why Do I Bite My Lip All The Time?”

bitingWhether it’s your lip, your cheeks, or your tongue, biting the tissues in and around your mouth is a troublesome habit for many. Mostly brought on by stress or as a nervous habit, cheek or lip biting can be hard to break. At our dental office in Lewisburg, we’d like our patients to know just how harmful this habit can actually be and provide them tips on how to stop.

Explanations to Why We Bite

If you’re a chronic nibbler, the cause may be nerve related and should be resolved through actively recognizing when you do it and working consciously to stop it. Sometimes, a bite to the oral tissues is accidental, typically occurring when trying to multitask eating and talking. Although we all know how painful it can be, the occasional bite usually isn’t a big deal and should heal on its own.

However, there are times when lip or cheek biting can be unavoidable. An abundance of accidental bites could be a sign of something more serious like a misaligned bite (malocclusion) or even TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder). When teeth don’t align properly, the likelihood of your cheek, lip, or tongue getting in between them increases.

Why is Chronic Biting Bad?

No matter what the underlying cause is, biting any part of the mouth hurts! And the discomfort sometimes lasts much longer than the initial zing of pain upon contact. What’s more, after a bite, a mouth sore usually develops. These sores can become infected if proper oral hygiene isn’t maintained, and infection in the mouth is never a good thing. If malocclusion is the main cause behind your accidental bites, a whole host of other potential problems can arise including headaches, tooth shifting, and jaw pain.

How Can You Stop?

Like we’ve discussed, if you’ve identified your biting as a nervous habit, try to consciously work at stopping it. Also chew more deliberately and pay attention while eating to reduce the chance of sustaining an injury. If this is an ongoing problem, talk with your dentist in Lewisburg to determine if your bite may be misaligned.

At our Lewisburg dental office, we’re always here to help current and new patients with any concerns they may have. If you’re experiencing the pain of chronically biting your cheeks, lips, or tongue, give us a call to schedule an appointment today. We’ll determine the cause of your biting and work with you to help correct the problem.

Welcoming patients from Lewisburg, Selinsgrove, Williamsport and beyond. 

What’s It Mean if Your Jaw Gets Locked?

jaw lockThe feeling of a jaw that won’t close or open and seems as if it’s stuck is one of the worst feelings someone can experience. It’s terrifying, it’s painful, and it’s random. But what exactly causes it? The team at my Lewisburg dental office is here to hopefully ease your worries and explain what may be to blame.

Let’s Define it

Before we dive into the specifics of what may be causing your jaw to feel locked in position, we’d like to clear up some terminology. The term lockjaw isn’t the same thing as jaw lock, although often used interchangeably. Lockjaw is a result of tetanus — a very serious, potentially fatal bacterial infection usually caused by a cut from a rusty piece of metal. Jaw lock, however, is what we’re talking about here and is directly related to the temporomandibular joint, also referred to as the TMJ.

What’s Happening?

Now that we know the difference between lockjaw and jaw lock, let’s look into two possible explanations behind the latter.

  • The Bite. The bite is the term dentists use to describe how the top teeth and bottom teeth fit together. If the bite is bad, known as malocclusion, or shifts away from its normal position, the muscles in the jaw, neck, and face can become inflamed. When this happens, the muscles tighten and can no longer function smoothly and effectively. It’s this tightening that makes the jaw lock up.
  • The Jaw. The anatomy of the jaw itself may the reason behind the locking sensation. This joint has a piece of cartilage that separates the jaw bone and the rest of the skull. If this cartilage becomes damaged, usually from grinding, clenching, or an injury, it can slip out of place, causing the jaw to become stuck in place.

Symptoms of a Problem

It’s important to note that not all symptoms are experienced by everyone, and you should see your dentist in Lewisburg for a proper diagnosis. Some additional symptoms besides jaw lock include:

  • Recurring headaches
  • A clicking or popping noise or sensation when opening and closing the mouth
  • Jaw pain that increases when opening the mouth widely, like a yawn

Don’t have a dentist but experiencing jaw lock? We welcome you to call my Lewisburg dental office to schedule an appointment. We’ll evaluate your jaw joint and talk with you about the symptoms you’re having so we’re able to diagnose what’s happening and recommend the best treatment for you.

Accepting patients from Lewisburg, Selinsgrove, Williamsport.