Did you know that there are four different types of misaligned bites? Read on to see if you have one of them.
Following our last article on how Invisalign can fix a misaligned bite, we decided to discuss this topic even further. More specifically, how to tell if you have a bad bite in the first place?
If you regularly visit the dentist, your dentist would have quickly diagnosed any bite problems and treated them as necessary. However, recent research shows that only half (58.2%) of children visit the dentist as often as they should. And we’ve seen similar results in adults. Therefore, many people may have a bad bite and not even realise it.
A poor bite, otherwise known as a Malocclusion in Latin, can come in many shapes and sizes. Sometimes only one tooth is affected, but at other times, several teeth or the jaw position can be the culprit. Equally, you may think that a poor bite only affects children whose mouths are still forming or adults who didn’t receive treatment at an early age. However, adults who have recently lost teeth can also develop misalignment due to their teeth shifting to fill the space.
When we talk about bite, we’re talking about the formation of your upper and lower jaw and how they come together. Your upper teeth should fit slightly over your lower teeth. Furthermore, your molars should sit comfortably on top of the opposite molar. If your jaw lines up like this, we’re sure you have a healthy bite.
Healthy bite function is paramount as it allows you to chew, swallow, talk and breathe naturally. It also supports your facial symmetry, digestion and much more. Whereas, a poor bite function can lead to worn-down teeth and the inability to speak and chew properly.
How to Tell if You Have a Bad Bite? The Clench Test.
The clench test is an easy way to see if you have a bad bite. Bite down and squeeze your teeth hard together. While doing this, you should note the following: Do your teeth fit together? Do you feel pain? Is there sensitivity when you bite down? Are your bottom front teeth pushing on your front top teeth?
A sign of a good bite is a pain-free bite. If you experience pain in your jaw or teeth, this could indicate a misaligned bite. Your teeth should also sit comfortably on top of one another. If you notice that your teeth are crooked or have gaps between them, this could signify one of the four misaligned bites that we will discuss in more detail in a moment. If you have a bad bite, there’s also a chance that your tongue may have lacerations on the sides, leading to open sores or infection.
The clench test is also great for ruling out other underlying causes of tooth pain. While cavities, cracked teeth and sensitivity can hurt a lot, this pain mainly occurs when chewing food or exposure to hot or cold temperatures. Clenching your teeth shouldn’t give you pain unless there’s potential jaw misalignment.
What Causes a Poor Bite?
A poor bite can develop for many reasons. Though these are the most common:
- A difference in the size of your upper and lower jaw
- A difference in the size of your teeth
- Missing teeth
- Extra teeth
- Impacted teeth
- A cleft palate
- Misalignment due to trauma
- Childhood habits, such as sucking your thumb or extended dummy use.
The Four Different Types of Malocclusion:
When dentists are discussing malocclusion, there are four types that we are talking about: an overbite, underbite, crossbite and open bite.
- Overbite/Deep Bite: Everyone has a slight overbite, but for it to be considered a malocclusion, the upper jaw must extend beyond 25% of your lower jaw. And in some severe cases, an overbite can cause your front teeth to bite down onto your gums.
- Crossbite: A crossbite is when your upper teeth sit inside your lower ones. It can happen on just one or both sides of the jaw.
- Underbite: An underbite is the opposite of an overbite, so your lower jaw comes over your top teeth.
- Open Bite: An open bite occurs when the front teeth don’t overlap the bottom teeth. As a result, the back molars also don’t touch, so your mouth is never in a resting position. As the name suggests, an open bite can make your mouth look partially open, even when it is closed.
Overcrowding and spacing between the teeth can also become an issue when it comes to your bite. For this reason, if you lose multiple teeth, you may develop a bite problem in the future.
Consequences of a Poor Bite:
- TMD: All of us have temporomandibular joints on either side of our face. These joints act as a hinge from your skull to your lower jaw and play a massive role in speaking, yawing and, most importantly, chewing. Sometimes, you can develop TMD, which is a Temporomandibular Disorder. Symptoms of TMD include pain when you move your jaw, stiffness, soreness and clicking noises when you open and close your mouth. Click here to learn more about how we can treat TMD.
- Speaking Difficulties: Not all patients with a bad bite will experience speech difficulties; however, it’s undoubtedly the most noticeable. If you have trouble pronouncing certain words because of a stiff jaw, this is a significant indicator of a misaligned bite.
- Headaches: When your bite is misaligned, the muscles in your jaw can become tense. This tension can cause mild-to-severe headaches.
- Teeth Grinding: Bruxism, otherwise known as teeth grinding, mainly occurs when you’re sleeping. For this reason, you may not even realise you do it unless a loved one notices. A few noticeable signs you grind your teeth are jaw pain, headaches, a bad night’s sleep and unevenly worn-down teeth.
Common symptoms of a poor bite also include snoring, tooth decay (as misaligned teeth are harder to clean and food can become stuck between them), and mouth lacerations. You may also have difficulty swallowing, recurrent gum disease and facial asymmetry.
Are Metal Braces the Only Way to Fix a Bad Bite?
Visiting your dentist is the first big step in correcting your bite. During a check-up, your dentist will be able to notice straight away if something isn’t right. They may suggest taking an x-ray of your mouth or teeth impressions to see what’s going on.
Orthodontic treatment is advisable if you are diagnosed with a poor bite. In severe cases, metal braces with supporting appliances may be the most effective option. However, there are alternatives which mean you won’t end up with metal braces. For instance, some bites respond well to Invisalign aligners with added SmartForce attachments.
Click here to learn more about how Invisalign can fix malocclusion.
If you have been experiencing speech troubles, your speech should quickly improve once your jaw is corrected.
Interested in Improving Your Bite and Straightening Your Teeth? Visit Cliftonville Dental Practice, Northampton.
At Cliftonville Dental Practice, we offer orthodontic solutions for everyone. No matter the concern, our Orthodontist can boost your confidence with a beautiful, straight smile and your overall oral health by improving a poor bite.
Sama Ria is our dedicated Orthodontist at Cliftonville Dental Practice, who was awarded a Membership in Orthodontics by the prestigious Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh. Click here to learn more about Sama.
Contact us here for online enquiries or call our friendly reception team on 01604 604545.