Having perfectly aligned teeth isn’t just about looking good – although that doesn’t hurt. The way your top and bottom teeth meet, referred to as your bite, is important for your overall oral health. There are multiple types of “bad bites,” also known as malocclusions, and we’re discussing those bites.
At American Dental Clinic, Dr. Emmanuel Aguilar provides a breakdown of the different bite types, which he can correct using a variety of treatment approaches.
You have an overbite when your top front teeth stick out over the bottom teeth. This is due to your upper jaw being too far forward, your lower jaw being too far back, your teeth growing in at an angle, or some combination of the three. In some cases it’s referred to as “buck teeth.”
Certain genetic traits, like crowded teeth, small jaws, or uneven jaws, are the main culprit of overbites.
However, there are behaviors that lead to overbites as well, including non-nutritive sucking behavior, which includes any kind of sucking movement that is not done in order to obtain nutrients, like thumb sucking. Tongue thrusting, when your tongue is pushed too far forward in your mouth, can also contribute to an overbite.
It’s best to treat an overbite when it presents in childhood, but we can also treat adults. If left untreated, complications can develop, including speech problems, discomfort when closing your mouth, damage to teeth and gums, and pain when chewing.
Another misalignment you commonly hear about is an underbite. This is when your lower jaw is further out than your upper jaw, causing an appearance that resembles a bulldog. Some cases are mild, and people are able to live with their underbite without any complications. More severe cases require some sort of intervention in order to avoid health problems.
Much like the occurrence of an overbite, an underbite is most often caused by genetics. Thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, or an injury can also take the blame for underbites. Side effects of an underbite can include pain, difficulty chewing, and speech problems. Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders are also commonly associated with underbites.
A crossbite occurs when some of the top teeth are angled in such a way that they fit inside bottom teeth. This kind of misalignment can affect a single tooth or a group of teeth, and can be anterior or posterior. Genetics, again, play a large role when it comes to crossbites.
Skeletal issues, like improper skull or jaw development, are inherited and are a primary cause of crossbite. Injury or childhood thumb sucking or mouth breathing also contribute to the development of a crossbite.
Leaving a crossbite uncorrected can lead to serious complications, such as lopsided jaw development in children, sleep apnea, and tooth decay. Other side effects can also occur, including headaches, speech problems, and TMJ, as well as mouth, shoulder, and neck pain.
There are two types of open bites: anterior and posterior. An anterior open bite is when your back teeth meet, but your front top and bottom teeth do not. A posterior open bite is just the opposite; when your front teeth come together, but your back teeth do not.
Tongue thrusting, skeletal issues, TMJ disorder, and excessive sucking may all contribute to the formation of an open bite.
Complications that accompany an open bite include speech problems, broken teeth, difficulty chewing, and problems swallowing. Open bites are easier to treat in children, before all of their adult teeth have come in.
It’s a bit more complicated to treat adults with an open bite, but it is possible. In addition to realigning your teeth, jaw surgery may be necessary if the open bite is severe.
We’re here to make the process as easy and effective as possible. Schedule an appointment at American Dental Clinic today to start your journey to a better smile!