The Basics Of Occlusal Equilibration

Posted on: 16 August 2016

The way you chew has a huge role to play in the overall state of your dental health. Poor chewing habits, by promoting uneven dental stress, may lead to such issues as cracked or chipped teeth. Fortunately, the threat of such problems can be minimized through a procedure known as occlusal equilibration. This article will familiarize you with the basic information about occlusal equilibration.


In a perfect world, your jaw would be oriented in such a manner that even pressure would be exerted on all of your teeth when you chew. Unfortunately, few us up have perfectly equilibrated chewing. The problem of upper and lower teeth that do not line up properly is known as malocclusion. While minor malocclusion isn't too big a deal, more severe instances can cause such issues as:

  • fatigued jaw muscles
  • popping, clicking, grinding, and other odd jaw sounds
  • loose fillings or inlays
  • stress cracks in the enamel of certain teeth

Occlusal equilibration is the name of a technique used to mitigate the chances of developing these unwanted problems. During an equilibration, a dentist will inspect and then make minute alterations to the surfaces of your teeth. In this manner, they will promote a more even distribution of chewing force.

The Equilibration Procedure

Your dentist will begin by trying to ascertain the stable position of your jaw, which is often referred to as the centric relation position. In the centric relation position, the muscles of your jaw are perfectly at rest. To determine this position, your dentist will gently maneuver your jaw--a process that goes by the impressive name of bimanual manipulation.

Once your dentist has determined your centric relation position, they will use bite registration material to make an impression of your teeth. From this soft, malleable material, a permanent dental cast will be made. This cast then allows the dentist to determine what changes will need to be made in order to produce even contact between both sets of your teeth.

In some cases, all that will be necessary to improve the malocclusion are changes to longstanding habits. To assist in "reteaching" the jaw, certain orthodontic devices may be prescribed. These help to manually reposition your jaw, thus encouraging it to find a more appropriate resting position. More severe instances of malocclusion, on the other hand, may require physical changes to the structure of your teeth.

In such an operation, your dentist will use an abrasive device to remove small amounts of tooth enamel. They will only do this in areas that are preventing proper contact between upper and lower teeth. Should more extensive alterations need to be made, your dentist may suggest the installation of either a crown or an onlay. In especially severe cases, you may need to have a problematic tooth extracted entirely, then replaced by a dental implant of the correct shape.