In dentistry, the term occlusion refers to the contact between the upper and lower teeth. You may occlude your teeth in different positions, such as when chewing or when at rest. If your teeth are not occluding properly, they may become loose or cause discomfort or pain. In such cases, an occlusal adjustment, through selective grinding of some of the tooth surfaces, may be recommended. This allows the teeth to occlude properly, resulting in a more stable and comfortable bite.
Occlusal adjustment may be performed in one appointment or over several appointments. If the dentist anticipates that significant changes in the bite will be required, he or she will first take impressions of your teeth in order to produce stone casts, or models. Then the dentist will use an instrument called a facebow, to determine the position of your jaws in relation to one another. There are several steps involved in this, in order to get an accurate registration of your bite. Once the stone casts are made in the laboratory, the dentist will use the facebow to orient the casts in order to make test adjustments on the casts, before adjusting the teeth themselves.
The actual adjustment of your teeth will involve several steps and is not uncomfortable in any way. The dentist will ask you where you feel uncomfortable contacts and then may help guide your teeth to bite down on paper that marks the teeth where there are interfering contacts. The dentist will then begin to adjust your occlusion by lightly grinding the occlusal surfaces of your teeth where there are interferences to your bite. This will be done in small increments, to avoid over-grinding. The dentist will check your occlusion at several stages, to see where there may still be tooth surfaces interfering with proper occlusion.
Then you will be asked to sit up, and the dentist will check your bite again, to ensure all interferences have been removed and that you also have proper occlusion when you are in an upright position.
A follow-up appointment will be booked, in order to check your occlusion again and, if necessary, make additional adjustments. Treatment will be considered complete, when your teeth make proper contact and when your bite feels comfortable.