What is a Centric Relation?

Centric relation is the harmonious alignment between upper and lower teeth. Symmetry is an essential element of having a healthy smile and durable teeth. Without it, enamel wears abnormally, dental restorations fracture, and conditions like temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD, TMJD) develop.

When we hone in on the symmetry and relationship between the jaws and teeth, it is a process with one goal in mind: a centric relation.

Advantages of a Centric Relation

An optimal centric relationship means that teeth, joints, and muscles all work as designed. As a result, activities such as chewing and biting are more efficient while making a minimal impact on the lifespan of the teeth.

Centric Relationships During Treatment

If you require a restorative procedure such as a new crown, bridge, or dental implants, the way that final restoration fits into alignment is a small part of a centric relationship. The tooth is shaped and adjusted in such a way that it fits properly between its neighbors and occludes (bites against) in a specific way with the opposite tooth.

Just one part of your mouth out of alignment — be it your TMJ or a specific tooth — can create disharmony throughout your overall smile. Not only will other teeth suffer, you may be left with problems like:

  • Chronic migraine headaches
  • Muscle fatigue through the face, neck, shoulders, and back
  • Accelerated tooth wear
  • Misalignment of your smile

How to Achieve an Optimal Centric Relation

Maybe you’ve never had dental work or haven’t had any recently, but you’ve been told that your centric relation is “off.” Is it possible to correct this? Quite possibly, but it depends on how severe the discrepancy is.

For example, orthodontic therapy can help to guide teeth into a properly aligned occlusion, where they bite against one another in an optimal manner. Or replacing a missing tooth can keep the others from drifting out of alignment.

But if anatomical differences such as a jaw deformity or internal damage to the TMJ have occurred, a more aggressive type of therapy may be needed (such as surgery.)

Adjustments to teeth, updating dental restorations, and orthodontics are just a few examples of how it’s possible to achieve a centric relation.

A Foundation to Healthy, Beautiful Teeth

It doesn’t matter if you pour thousands of dollars into the highest quality of smile makeover or full mouth rehabilitation treatment; if there is a poor centric relation, those outcomes won’t be as durable in the long run as if they were performed on a mouth with an optimal centric relation.

Seeing a dentist who incorporates centric dentistry into his or her restorative cases is crucial, especially if you’ve already suffered from a history of TMJ pain and tooth wear. Even cosmetic cases will need to consider how those new restorations fit into the overall positioning of your natural anatomy.

Interested in learning more about centric dentistry and what it can do for your lifestyle? See a Kois Center dentist today!