Dental patients sometime experience unusual symptoms following even some of the most routine restorative treatments. From having seemingly uneventful extractions, basic fillings or replacements of fillings, new tooth structures via crowns and buildups or new dental implants… some patients may report gum pain, unevenness of bite and perhaps even TM Joint Pain.

In most instances, patients understand there is a disturbance in their occlusal relationship. Typically the patient returns for an adjustment of their bite. Treatments might include alteration of a filling, adjustment of a bridge, alteration of a crown bite surface, etc.

In some situations however, reestablishing a patient’s normal bite can be difficult, especially if multiple or complex treatments were involved in the original treatment plan. Any singular treatment or combination of treatments can unknowingly infuence the sensitive relationships in occlusal function.

Occlusal Physics

The following discussion outlines the characteristics of anterior and posterior tooth structures, their function and how certain properties of biting physics should be maintained to assure normal dental function.

Mutually Protected Occlusion

In order for your mouth to function properly your teeth need to function in a mutually protected occlusal scheme.

The anterior (front) teeth have long conical roots, small biting surface area and are designed for ripping and tearing food. The posterior (back) teeth have shorter wider roots, large biting surface area and are for crushing food.

Biting down generates force on your Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ/jaw joint) and posterior teeth. Ideally, 40% of the force is on your TMJ (20% per side) and 60% is on your posterior teeth (30% per side). The anterior teeth do not touch. The posterior teeth protect the anterior teeth from the forces of chewing.

When you move your mandible (lower jaw) forward, left or right the posterior teeth should disclude (not touch) within 1.0 mm of movement. The posterior teeth are only designed to have a force down the long axis of the root. They are not supposed to touch in lateral movement. The anterior teeth protect the posterior teeth.