9.7.16 in General
Healthy Mouth Sounds- Occlusal Disease
There are definite categories of disorders of the mouth. Dentists and patients alike often relate to, and are aware of “biologic” causes of disease. These are processes that are caused by bacteria doing damage, or viruses doing damage. Biologic causes of disease in the mouth infer that infection is present, and causing some kind of problem with tooth, gum, bone, connective tissues, etc.
There is another disorder that I will refer to as “occlusal disease.” The basis for this disorder is nor infection from bacteria nor virus, but rather, a mechanical or chemical damaging of tissues in the mouth. The most obvious sign that “occlusal disease” exist is- tooth wear. When a dentist can look at the surfaces of your teeth and appreciate that some normal tissue (ie. Enamel) is missing due to wear; a diagnosis of occlusal disease can be made.
So, what are these signs a dentist may see? Well, flat smooth surfaces on the biting side of teeth. “Notched out” tooth structure near the gum line. Recession of the gum tissue away from the enamel of the tooth. Exposure of the second layer of tooth, evidenced by a yellow color showing on edges. Worn, chipped, sharp edges. Mobility of teeth. Any and each of these may tip me off that there is occlusal disease.
The question becomes, so what is the implication of that? We know that if not treated, biologic disease will progress to something worse. What about occlusal disease?
If the mechanical/chemical causes of this kind of wear is not eliminated, we can expect the disease to continue, and worsen.
Obviously correcting the original cause of the wear, does not automatically replace the lost tissue, but merely halts the process. For this reason a comprehensive, detailed examination of the structures of your mouth, are standard fare at Family Dental Care. I believe whole heartedly that you deserve to be informed of the state of your oral health, by me. This then, allows you to make wise decisions about your health. Once someone has observed a deviation from health, and informs you of that, something can be done about it. Dentists know that normal signs exist, and also that signs exist that represent abnormal. We also know the signs of disease precede symptoms of disease. Often times occlusal disease is present, and a patient will tell me, “yeah, but it doesn’t hurt.” Remember, signs precede symptoms. So, the fact that there is no pain does NOT equate to “there is no problem.”
Our goal is to perform the least amount of dentistry needed to keep you healthy. Treating occlusal disease early, ends up saving you time in the dental chair. And that means less discomfort and less costs.
It was once said, that “occlusal disease only effects about 100% of the human population”. Whether that statistic is absolutely accurate or not, the point is that we all have a propensity to wear our teeth, and occlusal disease is not a rare thing.
Next, blog we will discuss the different patterns of wear of teeth, and what they may mean. So, stay tuned in, and keep smiling.