Occlusion, in a dental context, means simply the contact between teeth. More technically, it is the relationship between the maxillary (upper) and mandibular (lower) teeth when they approach each other, as occurs during chewing or at rest.
Malocclusion is the misalignment of teeth and jaws, or more simply, a "bad bite". Malocclusion can cause a number of health and dental problems.
Static occlusion refers to contact between teeth when the jaw is closed and stationary, while dynamic occlusion refers to occlusal contacts made when the jaw is moving. Dynamic occlusion is also termed as articulation. During chewing, there is no tooth contact between the teeth on the chewing side of the mouth.
Centric occlusion is the occlusion of opposing teeth when the mandible is in centric relation. Centric occlusion is the first tooth contact and may or may not coincide with maximum intercuspation. It is also referred to as a person's habitual bite, bite of convenience, or intercuspation position (ICP). Centric relation, not to be confused with centric occlusion, is a relationship between the maxilla and mandible.
Malocclusion is the result of the body trying to optimize its function in a dysfunctional environment. It can be associated with a number of problems, including crooked teeth, gum problems, the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), and jaw muscles. Teeth, fillings, and crowns may wear, break, or loosen, and teeth may be tender or ache. Receding gums can be exacerbated by a faulty bite. If the jaw is mispositioned, jaw muscles may have to work harder, which can lead to fatigue and or muscle spasms. This in turn can lead to headaches or migraines, eye or sinus pain, and pain in the neck, shoulder, or even back. Malocclusion can be a contributing factor to sleep disordered breathing which may include snoring, upper airway resistance syndrome, and / or sleep apnea (apnea means without breath). Untreated damaging malocclusion can lead to occlusal trauma.
Some of the treatments for different occlusal problems include protecting the teeth with dental splints (orthotics), tooth adjustments, replacement of teeth, medication (usually temporary), a diet of softer foods, TENS to relax tensed muscles, and relaxation therapy for stress-related clenching. Removable dental appliances may be used to alter the development of the jaws. Fixed appliances such as braces may be used to move the teeth in the jaws. Jaw surgery is also used to correct malocclusion.
- Andrew's six keys to occlusion
- Dahl effect
- Malocclusion – "bad bite"
- Maximum intercuspation, formerly known as centric occlusion – the bite in which all the teeth are closed together in their natural and physiologic position
- Mutually protected occlusion – the way front and back teeth protect each other
- Occlusal splint – used to treat malocclusions and bruxism
- Occlusal trauma – problems that arise from untreated damaging occlusions
- Vertical dimension of occlusion – a type of jaw measurement
- "Tooth surface loss; Part 3: Occlusion and splint therapy" British Dental Journal, Vol. 186, No. 5, 1999-03-13, via nature.com. Retrieved on 2007-08-18.
- Davies, S., and R. M. J. Gray, "Practice: What is occlusion?" British Dental Journal, Vol. 191, No. 5, pp. 235–245, 2001-09-08, via nature.com. Retrieved on 2007-08-18.
- "What is Malocclusion?" (Website). American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, 2007. Retrieved on 2007-08-18.
- "Frequently Asked Questions: Jaw problems and headaches". (Website). British Dental Health Foundation, 2014. Retrieved on 2014-07-17.