How is an occlusal analysis performed, exactly, and what is involved in the process?
Well, first, a mold of your teeth is taken so an accurate plaster or stone model of your bite can be examined. Using what’s called a facebow transfer, the dentist will find the center of your jaw joint’s rotation, and then take measurements to see how it relates to your upper jaw.
Imprints of your teeth are then taken for a bite registration. A bite registration shows the dentist how your teeth come together when you are biting down completely. Also, the pattern of your jaw’s movement when chewing is unique to every individual. This pattern is also recorded.
There is a device called an articulator that a dentist uses to view your exact bite without having to use your head (which translates into countless hours in a dentist’s chair for you, the patient). It looks like this. The models previously made of your teeth are installed into the articulator, along with all the measurements of your jaw’s exact movements and how your teeth come together when you bite down.
After some examination (and long after your appointment is finished and you’ve driven home in time for dinner, don’t worry), the dentist will do some analyzing and will determine what is causing problems with your bite. Is it a TMJ disorder? Are crowns that were formed years ago getting in the way of proper chewing? What needs to be done in order to make the next procedure(s) successful?
Your dentist will be able to tinker with the articulator and find the ideal form of chewing system for you. A wax model will be made, and your dentist will move towards making these changes before moving on to the aforesaid procedure(s).
And, voila! Not only will you have some super treatment coming your way, but you’ll be comfortable knowing that your entire chewing system will be working the way it is supposed to.
Dr. Sperbeck, West Los Angeles