I am 59 years old, and have had 8 previous crowns. 2 weeks ago a new dentist fitted 2 new crowns (one porcelain and one gold) to my upper rear left adjacent molars.These are the permanent crowns, not temporaries. These new crowns are at least one mm or more distant from touching the opposing lower teeth (which are also crowned). I read that crowns should slightly touch opposing teeth. I also need another crown on the other side of my mouth, but need to know if my dentist made a mistake. Thank You very much!
– Mark from Colorado
Yes, dental crowns should touch their opposing teeth. But, if they are made correctly, there are more rigorous demands than that. It matters where they touch. The study of how your teeth come together is called “occlusion,” and there are textbooks and entire courses that study occlusion.
How your upper teeth meet your lower teeth is important for proper jaw function. If your jaw is properly aligned, you should be able to clench together and all your teeth will meet at the same time. Then, when you slide your teeth from side to side, there are two acceptable patterns of occlusion. One is called canine-protected occlusion. In that type, when you grind your teeth to the side, only your canine teeth touch. These teeth have especially long and sturdy roots and are equipped to take this sideways stress.
The other acceptable pattern is called group function. In group function, all of the posterior teeth have the same slope and when you grind your teeth to the side, they all touch evenly.
One way some dentists use to check the bite is to put a thin strip of plastic between your back teeth, about 0.05 mm thick and about the width of one tooth. No matter where you put it on the back teeth, you should be able to clench your teeth together and prevent the strip from being withdrawn.
When you have back teeth that don’t come together all the way, over time they may drift together and touch. But even though they may touch, there is a strong chance that they won’t touch correctly, and they could throw your bite out of alignment. A poorly aligned bite is one of the contributing factors in TMJ disorder.
I hope this is helpful.
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About David A. Hall
Dr. David A. Hall was one of the first 40 accredited cosmetic dentists in the world. He practiced cosmetic dentistry in Iowa, and in 1990 earned his accreditation with the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. He is now president of Infinity Dental Web, a company in Mesa, Arizona that does advanced internet marketing for dentists.
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