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Occlusion – “Word of Mouth” Blog

Our topic this time is Occlusion:

When there is disharmony in your “occlusion” it can present as headaches, jaw pain or tooth aches. Sometimes you will be unaware of it but your dentist will tell you he can see signs like flat spots on teeth where they have excess wear, chips in your enamel and loose teeth.


In Wikipedia, Occlusion may refer to:

  • Occlusion (dentistry), the manner in which the upper and lower teeth come together when the mouth is closed.


In fact, we think of occlusion as the study of how your chewing system functions and it is a very complex and dynamic process. Did you know that your teeth can sense pressure or contact down to 10-12 microns (1/1000th of a millimeter)? Or that your teeth touch every time you swallow…….about 1200 times per day? Have you ever noticed that your chewing cycle changes with the type of food you are eating? Did you know that the more back teeth that touch when you are moving your teeth side-to-side, the more force your jaw muscles will create? Or that as your jaw muscles contract during chewing/moving they change the shape of your lower jaw or mandible?

Clearly, there is a lot of complexity with how your teeth, muscles, jaw muscles and joints work together to allow us to chew properly. Even more interesting is how each person’s occlusion is so unique and this is an important part of what we are trying to learn about and then design when we are creating restorations for our patients.

We use instruments called articulators (see below) to help us study how your upper and lower jaw/teeth relate to each other.

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We also use articulation papers to mark the teeth/restorations to help us understand how your teeth are touching each other (see below).

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We have been studying occlusion for many years through courses (at places like the LD Pankey Institute and the Kois Center), meetings (like the American Equilibration Society) and study groups. Check us out next time for more topics on Occlusion like Deprogrammers, Occlusal dysfunction and Constricted Chewing patterns.

Come talk to one of our Vancouver Dentist if you have any tooth aches, book online or call as at (604) 733 9311.


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