I have had several crowns, and I was recently fitted for two new crowns. One of them is going to be a porcelain crown and the other gold. The upper rear and adjacent molars are the two teeth that I’m referring to. The end product is leaving a gap of at least one millimeter or so from the bottom teeth which also have crowns on them. I was under the impression that they should touch the opposing teeth. Was this done correctly? I’d like to know because I think I need to have another one done on the other side.
– David in Pennsylvania
To answer your question, yes, a dental crown should touch the opposing tooth. So much goes into the study of how teeth come together. This study is called occlusion and is very in depth. There are many factors that dictate precisely how and where crowned teeth touch.
Another important factor to consider is how the upper and lower teeth come together in regard to how your jaw and bite function. A properly aligned jaw should have all your teeth touching at the same time when you clench your jaw. There are two patterns of occlusion when moving your teeth from side to side. The first is called canine-protected occlusion where only your canine teeth are touching. The canines are designed to handle the additional sideways stress because they have longer tooth roots.
The other pattern of occlusion for side to side movement is called group function. This means that when you grind your teeth sideways, all of the posterior teeth touch evenly because they are sloped similarly.
You may or may not have heard about a test that a dentist can use to check your bite. A thin plastic strip is placed between your back teeth. The strip is very thin, approximately 0.05 millimeters thick. Basically, wherever the strip is placed on the back teeth, you should be able to keep the strip in place while the dentist tries to remove it. Your bite should hold it in place.
Even if your back teeth are touching, they still may not be touching correctly. In turn, this could throw your bite out of alignment. This is serious because it is one of the factors involved with TMJ disorder.
This post is sponsored by Newton, MA cosmetic dentist Ultimate Aesthetics.
Related link: TMJ therapy