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Is my bite off?

The classic emergency scenario for a bite problem is that the patient is having pain while chewing or touching his teeth together without any sensitivity to hot food or liquids.  The patient might also say they are biting too much on one side.  Unfortunately, from a diagnostic point of view,  most bite problems have not reached the level of symptoms or the symptoms are not associated with the bite by the patient so they are much harder to identify.

It is not possible for me to describe  all the steps your dentist goes through to check your bite but since bite problems can lead to loose or fractured teeth or crowns, TM joint problems, headaches and neck problems I will give you a couple of tests that you can try at home:

1. Close  your mouth completely. (This test is only meaningful if your front teeth are touching in this position.  If not, go on to the second test.)   Try sliding your lower teeth forward until the tops of your bottom front teeth touch the bottoms of your upper front teeth.  If your back teeth are still touching or touched as you moved your lower jaw forward,  you may have a bite prematurity.

What is a bite prematurity?  The way I describe it in my office is that the  muscles of the jaw control where the jaw goes and if any of the teeth get in the way of that movement you have a bite prematurity.  The system was designed so that in most movements of the jaw where teeth are still touching (think chewing) only front teeth or teeth on one side of the jaw are touching at any point in time.  So when you bite an apple  with your front teeth the back teeth should not  touch.

2. Close your mouth again.  This time slide your lower teeth to the left trying to keep them  together as long as possible.   When you have moved your teeth as far to the left  as they can go you might find just your front teeth on the left side touching or possibly all the teeth on the left side touching.  In any case, the back teeth on the right side should have not touched throughout this whole movement.  If they do this is another bite prematurity which is very destructive.

Repeat this test moving your lower teeth to the right side. Again, if the teeth touch the back teeth on the left side at any time throughout this movement you may have a prematurity.

Think about this kind of a prematurity for a moment.  Say you have a problem chewing on your left side because of soreness. If your dentist told you to avoid the left side temporarily you couldn't do it because you are still biting on the left side when you move your jaw to the right side!

These are very crude tests designed to give some indication of whether you have a problem.  They only indicate that you might  in these specific movements.  You can't completely rule out bite issues without having your dentist completely evaluate your bite.

Unless you are a patient of Dr. Landin's and have seen him very recently, this should not be construed as dental advice but only as information. Please consult your own dentist in regard to your personal situation or condition.

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