Occlusal (Bite) Adjustment

Occlusal (Bite) Adjustment

Pain due to malocclusion

Tooth pain can be caused by different factors, which are not always as easy to identify as tooth decay. Sometimes, the source of pain is related to the contact between teeth, especially after a tooth restoration (filling).

Maxillary teeth must fit perfectly with mandibular teeth in order to allow proper chewing. This relationship between upper and lower teeth when they approach each other is called occlusion. “Bad bite” or malocclusion occurs when this contact is not perfectly adjusted. The pressure is then unevenly distributed and pain may appear. An occlusal adjustment may be necessary.

Malocclusion due to a dental filling

Following a dental filling (to restore a decayed tooth), it is possible that the repaired tooth cause a malocclusion (contact between teeth that is not well adjusted).

After inserting the restorative material, the dentist asks the patient to bite on a small piece of blue paper. This little instrument helps to clearly identify the points of contact between teeth. Occlusal adjustments are done very precisely, with micrometer accuracy.

The dentist slightly polishes the restorative material and asks the patient to close his teeth together in order to see if there is discomfort. With the effects of the anesthetic, it is difficult for the patient to know if the new height of the tooth seems adequate.  An ulterior adjustment may be necessary.


Here are some symptoms that would indicate a malocclusion if they appear once you have returned home after receiving a dental filling:

  • Repeatedly biting your tongue;
  • Having the impression to maintain greater pressure in the area of the restored tooth;
  • Radiating pain.

What can your dentist do?

During a very short appointment, the dentist can relieve you almost instantly by equilibrating or evening out your bite (by polishing certain portions of teeth or fillings). No anesthesia is necessary.

Why is malocclusion causing pain?

When we are chewing, the pressure on the ligaments surrounding each tooth can represent several kilograms per square centimetre. Thus, a tooth that is suddenly under unbalanced pressure will compensate with its ‘suspension’ system, i.e. the ligament connecting the tooth to the bone (periodontal ligament). This tissue is composed of a multitude of nerve endings. When there is too much strain on a tooth, it can quickly react and develop inflammation in the pulp chamber, which will cause severe pain.

Do not hesitate to contact the dentist

You should not hesitate to contact your dentist if pain or discomfort appears after a dental restoration. When you call the dentist’s office, give some details about the discomfort:

“I feel like my repaired tooth is longer.”

“I very often bite my tongue or cheeks since the restoration.”

“As soon as I put a little pressure on my tooth, I feel significant pain.”

If the restoration was done recently, the occlusal adjustment should be included in the cost of the treatment. One more reason not to delay when you feel this discomfort.

All pain is not necessarily due to an occlusal problem

On the other hand, a dull pain is normal after a large filling because when the tooth is very affected by decay or if the cavity is located too close to the pulp chamber, the tooth will show a defensive response to the intrusion. Allow time for the tooth to adapt to the new restoration and the pain should decrease gradually.

Upon contacting your clinic, the professionals will consult your file and give you a more precise idea of the type of reaction that you can expect. An appointment at the clinic will be planned if necessary.

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