Most people who need braces are affected by dental malocclusion. This is when your teeth are out of alignment when your jaw is closed. Instead of the peak of a tooth connecting to the peak of its opposing tooth, it's slightly out of position, leading to uneven bite pressure. Sometimes this malocclusion can obstruct the effectiveness of your braces.
Repositioning Your Teeth
Dental braces are made up of a number of different components, primarily the arch wire threaded through the brackets affixed to your teeth, which can be assisted by wire ligatures and elastic ligatures. Although these components work in harmony to apply gentle pressure to your teeth in order to reposition them, pronounced dental malocclusion can result in too much resistance from your jaw.
Blocks on Your Teeth
To counterbalance this resistance, your orthodontist might need to apply a special addition to certain teeth in your mouth (usually your molars). These are known as bite blocks, but they're not all that blockish. These are tiny, essentially flat blocks bonded to the peaks of the teeth in question. They can be made of metal or acrylic, and are available in a variety of colors, although they're likely to be tooth-colored. What do these bite blocks actually do?
Bite blocks are intended to prevent the peaks of your teeth from coming into direct contact, offsetting the severity of your dental malocclusion and allowing your braces to apply the necessary degree of pressure to realign your teeth. These blocks might remain in place for the duration of your treatment, or might be removed at some stage during your treatment once your orthodontist has noted that your malocclusion has been adjusted to the point that the connection between your teeth is correct when your jaw is closed. Sometimes wear and tear can erode these bite blocks, or even cause them to detach; however, they can easily be replaced during a regular checkup.
Getting Used to Bite Blocks
Because the physical presence of these bite blocks can raise the set of your upper jaw, they can take a short period of time to get used to. They're not going to cause discomfort as such, although your jaw muscles may feel slightly strained for a brief period (until you become accustomed to the bite blocks). And it really is just a question of getting used to them, since chewing or even speaking might feel a little odd in the days after your bite blocks are fitted. This will quickly subside, so there's nothing to be concerned about.
When your upper and lower jaw have drifted out of alignment, it might be that bite blocks will become an essential tool for turning your dental malocclusion into an ideal occlusion. For more information about how an orthodontist can help, reach out to a local office.