If you have noticed that your bite is off, you are not alone. Bite problems are quite common. Approximately one in five people suffer from some form of malocclusion (the misalignment of the teeth and jaws). Misalignments of the teeth and jaw can result in speech impediments, difficulty eating, and even facial pain. These problems can be caused by a variety of factors such as genetics, trauma, or tooth loss. To see if you have a bite problem and how to solve it, let’s take a look at some common types of bite problems.
An open bite occurs when the upper front teeth do not overlap the lower front teeth when biting down. This misalignment of the jaws can cause speech problems and affect your ability to properly chew food. An open bite often restricts the normal chewing pattern of the individual, making it difficult to chew certain types of foods. This is because when your upper and lower jaws are out of alignment, it can prevent proper contact between them and inhibit efficient biting and grinding.
Along with impacting one’s ability to chew, an open bite can also cause speech impediments due to an incorrect positioning of the lips and tongue being restricted from comfortably fitting together. Treatment for an open bite often includes braces or orthodontic treatments to reposition the teeth and close the gap between them. Sometimes surgery may be required as well.
A crossbite occurs when one or more of the upper teeth fit inside the lower teeth instead of outside them when biting down. Crossbites can contribute to the buildup of plaque and tartar, which can lead to a serious gum infection. Bacteria present in plaque and tartar can cause the destruction of soft tissue, leading to periodontal disease. Crossbites also place more stress on tooth enamel, causing early enamel wear and chipping.
Additionally, bite misalignment caused by crossbites make it more difficult to remove food particles present between teeth and near the gum line. A lack of proper oral hygiene combined with crossbite-related issues can result in various forms of gum disease such as acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis (ANUG) or periodontitis. Therefore, it is important for patients with crossbites to maintain diligent oral care habits and receive regular dental cleanings to avoid the uncomfortable symptoms associated with gum diseases. Crossbites can be treated with braces, orthodontics, or a combination of both depending on the severity of the misalignment. In some cases, surgery may also be necessary to correct this issue.
An overbite is when there is excessive vertical overlap between the upper front teeth and lower front teeth when biting down. An overbite can be caused by genetics or incorrect tooth eruption during development. Treatment for an overbite usually consists of braces or Invisalign aligners which move your top layer of teeth back while pushing forward on your bottom layer of teeth so they will fit together properly when biting down. In more extreme cases where there is a significant degree of misalignment, surgery may be recommended as well.
Issues That Contribute to More Than One Type of Bite Problem
Tongue thrusting is a common type of bite problem that is caused by pressing the tongue against the front teeth. This can push the front teeth out of alignment and cause an open bite. An open bite occurs when there are gaps between the upper and lower front teeth when biting down. Tongue thrusting can also cause crossbites, where the upper and lower teeth do not align properly in certain areas of the mouth. Treating tongue thrusting involves exercises to correct the habit, orthodontic treatment such as braces or retainers, and sometimes even speech therapy.
Other habits that can contribute to open bites, crossbites, and/or overbites include thumb sucking and using pacifiers. Prolonged use of these objects can cause the teeth to move out of alignment as the child grows. Overuse of a bottle or sippy cup can also lead to open bites due to suction from the bottle repeatedly pressing against the front teeth. Poor oral hygiene practices can also contribute to bite problems as plaque and tartar buildup on the teeth can cause them to become misaligned. Finally, trauma from accidents or falls may also cause your bite to be off.
While most people don’t experience any major issues with their bites, it’s important to pay attention to any changes that occur in order to ensure that any potential issues are addressed promptly before they become more serious problems down the line. If you suspect that you may have a bite problem then consulting with an orthodontist should be your first step in order to get an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan tailored specifically for you!