What are bite blocks? Definition, uses, and side effects

Dani Dinkel

Written by Dani Dinkel RDH

Your orthodontist may recommend placing bite blocks as part of orthodontic treatment. Bite blocks can be used to correct malocclusion on their own if the patient is still in childhood, or they may be used in addition to orthodontic treatment.

Bite block definition

Metal braces

Picture by Authority Dental under CC 2.0 license

There are several types of bite blocks you can have placed.

A resin bite block, also called a buildup, is created by bonding resin composite directly onto the occlusal surface of the teeth. This prevents the teeth from having heavy contact with one another in the cases of a very deep bite. They can also be useful when a patient is having extensive restorative work done, as a way to correct the way the jaws come together.

Bite blocks can also be made of acrylic and wire and can be either removable or fixed. Some are spring-loaded. If placed in the anterior region, they are usually triangular in shape and are usually removable.

When are bite blocks necessary?

Bite blocks are necessary when the occlusion of the teeth would interfere with correcting the alignment. If the teeth come together in an adverse way, it could slow down or completely impede your orthodontic treatment. In cases of overbites, crossbites, and crowding, bite blocks prevent the teeth from coming all the way together and dislodging the brackets.

Bite turbos side effects

While there are not many issues caused by bite turbos, there can be a short period of discomfort while you get used to the bite blocks.

Speech issues

As with any dental appliance, speaking with the bite turbos in place can require some adjustment time. It may cause a speech impediment, including lisping.

Chewing problems

Since the goal of bite blocks is to not allow all of your teeth to come together, chewing will likely be difficult. You may need to cut your food into small pieces and place them towards the back of your mouth in order to chew properly. Chewing technique will depend on where your bite blocks are placed.

Soreness and discomfort

Any sort of dental treatment often causes some soreness and discomfort at first, and bite blocks are no different. This should only last a few days. After that, you should have no discomfort or pain associated with the bite blocks.

FAQ

How long do you wear bite blocks?

The length of time you’ll need to wear a bite block depends on how quickly your teeth move. In most cases, patients wear a bite block for 6-9 months.

Do bite blockers hurt?

While bite blockers do not hurt to put in place, they can cause some discomfort when you are initially getting used to them. Since your maxillary and mandibular teeth will not touch when you bite together, you will have to adjust the way you eat and speak.

How to clean bite blocks?

If your bite blocks are made from resin and attached to your teeth, just brush them as you would the rest of your teeth. If you have a metal bite block appliance, you can also use your toothbrush and toothpaste to clean the appliance.

What if one of the bite turbos comes off?

It is not common for a bite turbo to come off. However, if one does break loose, there is nothing that needs to be done as long as you are not having any discomfort. If both bite turbos come off, you should call your dental provider and follow their recommendations.

What happens if I swallow my bite block?

If you swallow your bite block, don’t panic. Your body can easily digest the bite block over time and it will not cause any problems. However, in some rare cases, you will need to seek medical help. If you develop any difficulty breathing, you should go to an emergency room right away. Difficulty breathing may mean that you aspirated the bite block and it may be in your lungs. You will need to have an xray of your chest to find out.

Do bite blockers wear down?

The material that bite blockers are made with is softer than your tooth structure so over time, they can begin to wear down. It is likely that you will be finished with treatment before this happens. However, if you clench or grind your teeth, you may need to have your bite blocker replaced before the end of your treatment.

References

  1. Resin Bite Turbos - JCO
  2. Speech and discomfort during lingual orthodontic treatment - PubMed