Maintaining Proper Dental Occlusion is Essential
to Your Oral Health
A bad bite (‘Malocclusion’) can be a serious threat to your overall dental health by increasing the risk of damage to your teeth and other painful side effects. Dental misalignment can manifest as an overbite, underbite, open bite, or cross bite. To improve the form and function of your smile, our doctors in Billings, MT, can address underlying concerns as well as design a custom oral appliance to stabilize your bite. For over 30 years, Dr. Kenneth J. Bagby has been crafting personalized treatments to improve dental occlusion. Together, he and Dr. Erica R. Stokke are committed to helping you achieve your perfect smile.
What is Dental Occlusion?
Dental occlusion defines the way your teeth fit and function together, literally the way the upper and lower jaws occlude. When the teeth are misaligned, the forces placed on the teeth are not even and can take a serious toll on your oral or dental health, your jaw joints, and the muscles in your head and neck. There are three skeletal classifications, typically describing skeletal jaw growth:
- Class One, which occurs when the upper jaw is slightly larger than the lower jaw and the relative amount of vertical overlap (‘overbite’) and horizontal overlap (‘overjet’) resulting in the upper teeth overlapping the lower teeth. This is the most ideal skeletal relationship.
- Class Two, which is when the upper jaw grew more rapidly than the lower (or the lower is undeveloped). As the upper teeth sit much farther out than the lower, the ‘overjet’ is dramatically increased.
- Class Three, which occurs when the lower jaw grows more rapidly than the upper (or the upper is under developed) and protrudes more than the upper. This is commonly known as an underbite.
These relationships are most noticeable from a side view as they are classifications in an anterior-posterior dimension. Of course, the jaw discrepancies may also be noticed in a lateral or vertical dimension. Malocclusion (or a ‘bad bite’) does not often result in pain or may not even exhibit problems with function (chewing, speaking, etc.) It is also used to describe crowding or spacing of the teeth. If the teeth fit together and pull one (and usually both) jaw joints out of place, this is also malocclusion
The Consequences of Misalignment
Malocclusion can lead to serious issues such as:
- Fractured, worn or loose teeth
- Muscle pain
- Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) or also known as 'TMJ'
- Tooth loss and movement or shifting (compounding the problem)
Issues with dental occlusion can be identified by your doctor during your regularly scheduled exams. However, if your bite substantially changes between visits, you should notify us and schedule a consultation as soon as possible.
Dr. Bagby is well-versed in dental occlusion. Over the last 30 years, he has successfully treated over 1000 cases. To ensure an accurate diagnosis, he conducts an in-depth exam, which may include x-rays and other advanced images. He can then review the findings of your evaluation and recommend the most effective forms of treatment. During your visit, your doctor can take the time to answer any questions you may have about the treatment process, so you feel entirely confident in our services.
Over the last 30 years, Dr. Bagby has successfully treated over 1000 cases of malocclusion.
With an emphasis on preventive care, we strive to help our patients minimize their oral health risks and the measures necessary to correct them. Most dental diseases are chronic deterioration over time and few have a cure. What is most important is recognizing the early signs of breakdown and stabilizing the risk as conservatively as possible. It is important to treat issues such as dental infection, decay, and gum disease prior to oral appliance therapy primarily because any future tooth loss will compromise the optimal management of the occlusion. After addressing all other concerns, we can design an oral appliance to stabilize your occlusion. A splint can not only alleviate discomfort, but it can help to prevent future damage and save you from more expensive restorative procedures. Using oral appliance therapy, we can develop a long-term treatment plan at a pace that you can control. It is our ultimate goal to re-establish a proper relationship between your upper and lower teeth, so you can eat comfortably and speak clearly.
Trust Our Expert Care
Do not put your oral health at risk. If you are experiencing discomfort when chewing or biting, contact us online or by phone at (406) 252-1078 today to find out if you have an occlusal issue. Our doctors and staff are dedicated to providing the best treatment for your unique needs.