One of the most underdiagnosed diseases of the mouth is occlusal disease. Most people know that dentists diagnose decay, gum disease, and oral cancer. I’m willing to bet that many of you reading this have never even heard the term “occlusal disease”. Occlusal disease can lead to tooth pain, or jaw pain, or excessive tooth wear, or any combination of these three problems.
For this post, I just want to give you a quick overview of the causes of occlusal disease. First, lets divide the different types of teeth (incisors, canines, bicuspids, and molars) into two general types: front teeth and back teeth. Front teeth can only accept light pressure because the pressure is applied laterally in a scissoring fashion. Back teeth, on the other hand, can accept extremely heavy pressure because the pressure is applied axially in a crushing fashion. Occlusal disease happens when back teeth are functioning like front teeth or vice versa. Restoratively, the treatment can be either additive to the tooth structure or subtractive. This treatment gets patients’ teeth to function in the way they were intended. If you notice excessive wear on your front teeth, even if you don’t have pain, you may benefit from treating an underlying occlusal disease.