***Originally published at http://blog.davisdentistry.com/archives/occlusion***
The simplest way to define occlusion is as the way your teeth meet and function. Ideally, your teeth meet in a stable, repeatable position and function so that they slide or separate without “banging” together as you eat and talk. The teeth in these models show ideal occlusion.
Ideally, your teeth will contact each other in a vertical direction, as they are designed to absorb heavy forces along their long axis.
Most teeth are not designed to absorb damaging lateral forces. A light lateral force can loosen a post, just as it can loosen a tooth. It could also make a tooth sensitive.
If your teeth are not in proper occlusion, there are a number of potential risks to your long-term dental health, including:
- Teeth could loosen.
- Teeth could wear excessively.
- Teeth could move out of alignment.
- Teeth could get sore.
- Teeth could get cervical notching, or abfractions.
- Open contact could develop.
- TMJ could break down.
- Bone loss could occur.
- Tori could develop.
Because of these potential complications, many dentists focus on the occlusion of their patients’ teeth, during both evaluations and during restorative treatments such as fillings and crowns.