Causes of Malocclusions (Bite Problems)
Getting Over Your Overbite
Underbite Information: Over, Under and Through!
In a perfect world, we'd all be born with perfectly straight teeth and perfectly aligned jaws, and we'd never have to talk about malocclusions (bite problems). Terms like underbites, overbites or crossbite might refer to heavenly bites of chocolate rather than types of malocclusions. And those bullies who called you "buck tooth" in grade school would have one less tool of terror to wield. Alas, while we don't live in a dental dreamland, the world of dentistry does offer great solutions for fixing a malocclusion. Sink your teeth into our articles and you'll learn the ABCs of malocclusions, including what treatments are available for both minor and severe malocclusion.
Q: Why should I worry about a malocclusion?
A: Malocclusions needn't cause you worry - unless you leave them go that is. Left untreated, a malocclusion like an anterior crossbite (when the top front teeth fall inside the bottom front teeth as you bite down) or a severe malocclusion like a deep overbite (when the top teeth overlap excessively the bottom teeth) can lead to problems such as TMJ disorder, receding gums, enamel wear and uneven jaw growth. Doesn't sound too bad, right? Problem is TMJ disorder can cause chronic jaw pain and headaches; receding gums can cause tooth sensitivity; enamel wear can lead to chips, cracks and breaks in the teeth; and uneven jaw growth can lead to an unnatural facial appearance.
Q: What's the most common type of malocclusion?
A: An overbite, where the upper-front teeth overlap excessively the lower-front teeth, is one of the most common malocclusions.
Some patients choose to live with an overbite rather than get it corrected. But leaving an overbite untreated has its consequences, some more serious than others. To start, because the lower-front teeth jut inside the upper-front teeth, damage to the upper palate and gums can become a problem. Improper alignment of the jaws can also lead to excessive enamel wear, making the teeth especially vulnerable to cracks, chips and even breaks. Overbites can also make chewing and speaking more difficult.
Q: What's involved in correcting malocclusions?
A: It depends on the type of malocclusion you have. In many cases, malocclusions like overbites and underbites can easily be treated with orthodontic dental braces. And with so many attractive braces options these days (like Invisalign®) many adults who never got their overbites fixed at a young age are now choosing to do so. Dental braces aren't appropriate for everyone, however. Patients with a severe malocclusion like a deep overbite or underbite may need oral surgery to properly reset the jaws. Oftentimes, crossbites are treated with a maxillary expander to broaden the upper jaw. An expander is anchored to the roof of the mouth and widened daily, through the turn of a key, for about 1-2 months. Because each case is different, treating a severe malocclusion sometimes requires a combination of treatments.