When you smile or laugh, you send the world a message. You share happiness, confidence, and positive emotion with those around you by simply smiling and showing off your pearly whites. Sharing your smile is usually easier when you have a flawless set of white and perfectly aligned teeth.
Sometimes, however, achieving the perfect smile may require orthodontic assistance. Braces or invisalign are the most common form of treatment used to help treat bite problems and misaligned teeth. Braces are available in a number of different styles and materials and are used to shift teeth into their correct positions.
If you have misaligned teeth or your bite requires correction, there’s no need to fear! With today’s advanced orthodontic procedures, you can transform your smile and regain the confidence that comes with it.
Types of Bite Problems
Bite problems, which are also referred to as malocclusions, are misalignments between the teeth of the upper and lower dental arches when they approach each other as the jaws close. Bite problems can be dental or skeletal, resulting from incorrectly positioned teeth or jaws, respectively. A number of different bite problems can manifest, including:
This occurs when the upper teeth protrude out in front of the lower jaw. Patients with overbite can have anywhere between a 3-10mm gap between the upper teeth and the lower jaw.
Underbite issues occur when the lower jaw extends forward and sits in front of the upper jaw. Patients with an underbite appear to be sticking out their chin and lower teeth.
Crossbite tends to be genetic, meaning it’s inherited. Children with crossbite are born with a narrow upper jaw that causes the teeth to be misaligned with the lower jaw and could result in crowding as the permanent teeth begin to come in.
Bite problems are very common, and most individuals have at least a little bit of an overbite. Malocclusions are very recognizable and can cause several health problems for those who have them. For these reasons, it’s important to seek the correct orthodontic treatment based on the severity of the case, and correct a bite problem without delay.
What health problems are linked to bite problems?
Bite problems can be very obvious deformities of the teeth and jaw. In addition to its effect on appearance, problems with bite should be treated as early as possible to avoid associated problems, including:
Individuals with overbite can suffer from headaches and migraines. These can result from a misaligned jaw in which the muscles connecting the skull to the jaw bone overpower the lower jaw, causing the joint and skull bone to become compressed.
Neck and Shoulder Pain
An imbalanced jaw can lead to pain in the neck and shoulders.
Teeth Clenching and Jaw Grinding
Patients with an overbite tend to clench their jaw or grind their teeth, leading to pain in the joints and wear down of teeth.
Bite problems can result in the development of a lisp and decreased clarity of speech.
Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorder
The TMJ connects the jaw bone to the cheekbone and is involved in a number of different functions. The disorder of the TMJ causes jaw pain, lockjaw, and interferes with its ability to function.
Poor Oral Hygiene
Misaligned teeth and jaws can make it difficult to perform proper teeth cleaning and, therefore can increase the risk of developing gum disease and cavities.
Physical and Psychological Effects
Bite problems can alter the appearance of the face and cause it to appear rounder, shorter, and unbalanced. As well, because of its obvious appearance, it can result in decreased self-esteem and confidence in children and adults.
Risk of Injury
Protruding teeth resulting from bite problems are at a greater risk of injury during physical activity or an accident.
What causes bite problems?
It is not always clear what causes bite problems. Genetics plays a major role, meaning parents who require orthodontic treatment for their malocclusions will usually have children who require the same.
Many individuals are born with a malformed jaw, which continues to develop unevenly. At the same time, others are born with a jaw that is either too big or too small, resulting in large gaps, overcrowding, and an incorrect bite.
Alternatively, environmental factors can also contribute to the development of an incorrect bite. Children who continue to suck their thumb past the age of five, use a pacifier for a prolonged period, or are bottle-fed, are at greater risk of developing an overbite. Bite problems can also develop later in life due to teeth loss without replacement, nail-biting, or teeth grinding.
Treating Your Bite With Braces
Before your bite can be treated, it must first be assessed using X-rays. The type and severity of the bite problem can vary; therefore, treatment must be tailored accordingly. Incorrect bites are more easily treated in children because their jaws have not yet developed fully. Most cases can be successfully treated with the help of braces attached to the upper and lower arches of the teeth.
Children are typically fitted with traditional metal braces, which are usually not recommended for adults with fully developed jaws. In some cases, teeth may be extracted before applying braces to help manage the overcrowding of teeth. Once the braces have been attached, the teeth undergo a slow change using the following steps:
Metal brackets are fastened to the teeth and then connected to a wire; this archwire helps to straighten and align the teeth.
The jawline is slowly shifted into the correct position with the help of elastics. These are removed during eating, drinking, and brushing.
A retainer, or a permanent wire, is used to keep teeth in the correct positions once the braces are removed.
Treating your bite with braces can usually take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years, depending on the severity of the condition and additional problems. However, the health benefits of bite correction are tremendous, and at the end of your journey, you’ll be able to show off your new smile confidently.
If the appearance of metal braces isn’t appealing for you, you may consider using Invisalign as a transparent alternative to correct your bite. Invisalign involves the application of a series of transparent aligners that are replaced every two weeks. Each subsequent aligner applies increased force on the teeth, slowly shifting them into the correct position.
How effective are braces at correcting bite problems?
Braces are a very effective method to correct misaligned teeth, reposition the jaw, and correct your bite. Braces work more effectively in children, whose jawbones are still developing and flexible. Adults with more severe bite and jaw problems may require more than just braces to correct their issues.
In such cases, surgery may be required to help reposition the jaw. Braces may be used in combination with other forms of treatment, such as extraction to remove teeth when there is overcrowding. Alternatively, palate expanders may be used to increase the jaw’s size to accommodate the crowded teeth and create enough space for the braces to move teeth into the correct positions.
It’s important to treat your oral health the same way you would your physical health. This means regularly visiting a dentist at least once or twice a year to allow for a thorough examination of the health of your teeth, and a professional cleaning to remove any plaque or tartar build-up.
Bite problems are usually very obvious deformities of the teeth and jaws; however, they can be corrected. It is usually easier to treat bite problems in children with developing jawbones, but this doesn’t mean it’s impossible to treat similar problems in adults.
By regularly taking your children and yourself to visit the dentist, you can help identify and treat bite problems as early as possible. Don’t let an incorrect bite or any other dental concerns hold you back from achieving your full potential.
To learn more about how braces can correct your misaligned bite, call Bristol Dental at 905-712-3409 or contact us here.