One of the most important aspects of dental health is how well our teeth meet. Occlusion in dentistry refers to how the upper and lower jaw connects. As we chew and bring the upper and lower jaws together, there are considerable forces generated that enable us to chew hard and soft foods equally well.
When the upper and lower jaws do not meet evenly, damage can occur to the teeth, gums, jaw muscles and the supporting bone. Dr. Partovi sees many patients at her Los Angeles clinic who are suffering from conditions related to bite problems such as jaw joint pain and headaches.
Bite problems are identified by uneven excessive wear on one or more teeth, chipped or broken teeth and damaged cosmetic veneers. Additionally, virtually all patients who have completed an orthodontic program will need bite calibration once the braces have been removed.
Signs of the need
for bite calibration
There are several symptoms that can be identified by Dr. Partovi during a regular checkup which include:
- Excessive wear on certain teeth
- Complaints of jaw muscle ache
- Loose or chipped teeth
- Teeth moving out of position
- Receding gums
- Notches in the teeth
There are many other signs that she can detect which may prompt her to order imaging scans to further investigate surface signs of bite problems.
Bite calibration procedure
Dr. Partovi begins by identifying the source of the malocclusion. There are many reasons the teeth are not meeting properly including;
- Crowded or crooked teeth
- Teeth out of alignment
- Missing teeth or extra teeth
- Size of the jaw
- Shape of certain teeth
- Improperly fitted crowns or fillings
Patients requiring braces or the repair of old crowns or fillings will need to have these issues resolved before bite calibration is done. Dr. Partovi is then able to use several methods to ensure the upper and lower jaws are brought into proper alignment going forward.
Diagnosing the presence of a bite problem can require the use of imaging methods such as MRI, CT scan or X-ray. Pain is not the only indication that malocclusion exists since the damage can be to the enamel of the teeth which will not be painful.
Once all diagnostics are completed, Dr. Partovi will mark the teeth using a special tape that leaves color on the parts of the teeth that are touching more forcefully than others. These are then smoothed out and reshaped using a dental drill with a special diamond tip. This process is not painful as only the exterior enamel is being reshaped.
As one of Los Angeles most respected orthodontists Dr. Partovi includes bite calibration as part of the overall treatment plan for those needing braces. It is highly unusual for newly aligned teeth to meet perfectly. Dr. Partovi calibrates her patient’s teeth once their orthodontic program is completed. Routine follow up is scheduled to monitor the results of bite calibration so that any fine tuning can be done.
Night guards and bite calibration
It is common for Dr. Partovi to see patients suffering from teeth grinding and jaw clenching at night. Stress is one cause for this behavior which is in no short supply in Los Angeles. Most patients with this condition also have some bite related issues.
As the bite is being corrected, a night guard may be suggested to protect the teeth until night grinding and clenching is resolved. This ensures there is no further damage caused while bite calibration is being done.
Importance of correcting
Without correcting bite problems, the forces generated only on certain teeth will continue to damage the teeth, gums, bone and muscles of the jaw. Dr. Partovi is always vigilant in detecting these and in the case of her orthodontic patients, includes bite calibration as part of their treatment.
Additionally she monitors her bite calibration patients to ensure that the calibration remains correct as we age. It isn’t unusual for slight movements in the teeth to occur over time.