Occlusions, occlusions, occlusions…
Updated: Nov 17, 2018
In this blog post we discuss the significance of the interaction between our teeth in terms of dental occlusions.
Let’s break down the word “occlusion” to its root word, “occlude.” According to www.merriam-webster.com, occlude means to close up or to block off. In a dental context, however, the term refers to the contact between the teeth in the upper and lower jaws (1).
There are three known classes of dental occlusions that dental professionals encounter. Class I is known as the “standard” form of occlusion in which the teeth in the upper jaw aligns perfectly with the teeth in the lower jaw. Class II is recognized when the teeth in the upper jaw protrude further out in comparison to the teeth in the lower jaw, which results in an overbite. Lastly, Class III is recognized when the teeth in the lower jaw protrude further out in comparison to the teeth in the upper jaw, which results in an underbite (2). Both Class II and Class III occlusions would require intervention by dental professionals in order to correctly realign one’s jaw.
You may be thinking to yourself, should I really be concerned about a simple overbite or underbite? I mean, it’s not adversely impacting my day to day activities in any way…
Now, from a short-sighted perspective, you may be right. However, an overbite or an underbite should not be something that remains untreated in the long run. When one has an overbite or underbite, the teeth in the upper jaw and the teeth in the lower jaw are not necessarily “fitting into place.” Think of jigsaw puzzle pieces. When solving a jigsaw puzzle, the simplest, yet most significant, objective is to connect two pieces that were designed to fit one another. There is no possible way that this can be achieved with pieces that were not designed to fit one another. As a result, this leads to a much greater problem pertaining to the puzzle as a whole. The structure of our teeth and the way our upper and lower jaws should align is analogous to a jigsaw puzzle. Improper alignment can eventually lead to negative results, such as a chipped, or otherwise worn out tooth. Needless to say, this can cost the patient a substantial amount of time and money in dental restoration work. Thus, in order to prevent unprecedented restorative work, it would be best to talk to your dentist about dental occlusions and to decide whether preventative treatment is necessary.
(1) "Occlude." Merriam-Webster. Accessed November 04, 2018. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/occlude.
(2) Pickett, Craig. "Functional Occlusion in the Dental Lab: Understanding the 3 Classes of Occlusion." Whip Mix Blog. Accessed November 04, 2018. http://info.whipmix.com/functional-occlusion-in-the-dental-lab-understanding-the-3-classes-of-occlusion.