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Occlusal Analysis

Occlusion, or how we close our mouth in order to bite, is an understandably important aspect of how our mouth functions. Advances in the science of dentistry are revolutionizing our understanding of occlusion and the importance of maintaining functional harmony for your health.

The ABC’s

Occlusion has to do with the mechanical aspect of how the mouth functions. Supporting everyday activities we take for granted, such as chewing, swallowing or talking, is a complex system with many closely related parts.

Each part must function appropriately in order to maintain the health and stability of the entire system. A problem with one part of the masticatory system may destabilize the entire system and cause many problems.

Some consequences of occlusal overload (the bearing of undue stress on a particular structure) include:

  • teeth can become hypersensitive
  • connective tissue holding the tooth in place may deteriorate or be destroyed
  • bone loss may result
  • the tooth may chip, crack or even split open
  • bacteria may take advantage of a stressed tooth leading to carries or periodontal disease
  • surrounding teeth may move to compensate for the problem.

These examples illustrates why harmony is of utmost importance. More important than having ‘the perfect bite’ is having a bite that is stable and works well as a system.

Signs, Symptoms & Diagnosis

It is important to draw a distinction between the symptoms you feel and signs the doctor notices. As with many diseases, signs that a problem exists are often evident well before a patient begins to feel any symptoms. Occasionally the opposite is true.

Usually there is a much higher rate of successful treatment with simpler, less invasive, and less costly procedures if the problem is remedied before symptoms appear. Possible symptoms resulting from Occlusal Disease include:

  • Chronic headaches or migraines
  • TMJ and muscle pain
  • Hypersensitivity and/or hyper-mobility of a tooth
  • Chipped, broken, worn, translucent, and/or fractured teeth or restorations
  • Susceptibility to disease caused by bacteria such as cavities or periodontal disease

Because a lack of harmony in the masticatory system is a defining element of occlusal disease, symptoms may be varied and felt in ways that seem completely unrelated to the root cause of the systemic instability. Often treating the symptomatic component (e.g. a fractured tooth), is insufficient. An occlusal analysis must be done to identify and treat the cause of the disease.


There may be several treatment options available for any particular patient. However, if treatment is delayed, a patient’s options my become limited and additional treatment may be required to address secondary damage as a result of occlusal disease.

The importance of a harmonious masticatory system is a fundamental tenant in Dr. Jaramillo’s practice. Comprehensive and sustainable oral health requires that all the parts of a patients ‘bite’ work well together.


For more information visit:

  • American Dental Association: Jaw Pain |TMJ |
  • First Dental Care: Bad bite relates to other dental problems
  • Simple Steps: Crowns | Bridges

For additional dental health resources visit our index of resources


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