OUR TEETH ARE MEANT to fit together in a specific way. It’s how we are able to chew effectively and speak clearly. When the upper and lower teeth don’t fit together the way they should, we call that a malocclusion, or bad bite. In addition to impeding those important functions, a malocclusion can also result in jaw problems, put teeth at risk of breaking, and even make digestion less efficient.
How Do Malocclusions Happen?
Some malocclusions are caused by genetics. A child who inherits a large jaw from Dad and small teeth from Mom is likely going to have some crowding and alignment issues, including a bad bite. Oral habits during the developmental years also play an important role in how the adult teeth fit together. Habitual lip sucking, thumbsucking, tongue thrusting, nail biting, teeth clenching, and mouth breathing can all lead to a bad bite.
The good news with malocclusions caused by bad oral habits is that habits can be broken! Parents can help their children develop a healthier bite by discouraging these habits. This is also important for after orthodontic treatment, so that those same habits don’t cause the teeth to shift back into an unhealthy position!
Some Malocclusion Vocabulary
When the jaw is closed in a healthy bite, the upper teeth should rest slightly over the lower teeth, and the points of the upper molars should fit into the grooves of the lower molars. Let’s go over five of the most common ways a bite can veer off of what is healthy.
- Excessive overbite: the upper teeth overlap or overjet the lower teeth by too much for a healthy bite.
- Deep bite: such a severe overbite that the upper front teeth completely overlap the lower front teeth, which may even drive into the gums behind the upper teeth, risking injury to the gum tissue.
- Open bite: sometimes the result of a tongue thrust habit or aggressive thumbsucking in the preschool years and beyond, the upper front teeth flare out, leaving a gap between them and their lower counterparts when biting down.
- Crossbite: when the jaw is closed, some upper teeth are on the outside and some lower teeth are on the outside.
- Underbite: when the jaw is closed, the lower teeth jut out in front of the upper teeth.
Orthodontic Treatment: The Solution to Malocclusions
Orthodontic treatment can correct any of these bad bites, and these days, it can do it with less of the bulky headgear we sometimes see in older movies. Jaw surgery is also a less common solution today, though some severe cases still require it. Modern treatment for malocclusions tends to be much more low profile and hassle free, and we love being able to offer these kinds of solutions.
When Would You Like Your Initial Consultation?
If you have concerns about the way your teeth fit together, whether it’s a crowding issue or a bad bite, now’s a great time to schedule a consultation at our practice. We’ll take a look and give you an idea of what to expect from the treatment process.