Occlusal Adjustment
An occlusal adjustment is a small procedure that is done so that the bite of the jaw comes together properly. Sometimes there are interferences that stop the jaw from being able to close correctly, in the proper anatomically correct place. Some of these interferences might include damage done to the teeth after an accident and natural wearing down on the teeth. As a person’s teeth develop, they could also become interferences with the natural bite. Sometimes even dental work can cause an interference, such as a filling or a crown, an extraction or a bridge.

If the bite is not fixed, there are many symptoms that could occur. When the interferences prevent the jaw from closing in its anatomically correct position, neck and jaw muscles are unable to relax fully. People who are experiencing this could have chronic headaches and neck aches. Bruxism can also occur, which is when the teeth grind, because the jaw is trying to find its natural position. When people have bruxism, bone loss, tooth loss, and even receding gums can occur. If an occlusal adjustment does not happen and the teeth bite in an unnatural way for too long, a patient may develop TMJ, or tempromandibular joint, issues.

Diagnosing The Problem

Dr. Toms will do a close examination of your jaw to see if your bite is off, either by a small amount or a lot. If your jaw does not open equally on each side, or if it clicks when you open it, you could need a bite adjustment. Some other symptoms include having the enamel worn away or having fractured or otherwise broken teeth. As was mentioned before, bruxism, headaches, and neck aches are also symptoms that might indicate that you need an adjustment.

The Procedure

To determine where the interferences are, Dr. Toms will have you bite down on a thin piece of colored mylar paper. The teeth will make contact in certain places, and the color from the paper will transfer to the teeth. Wherever the colored marks are left on the teeth is where Dr. Toms knows to smooth the tooth down so that the interference will no longer exist. Dr. Toms will not grind down the tooth, but will gently take off just enough of it so that the bite will not be off any longer. When the teeth are in their natural bite position, the procedure is done.

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