October is National Orthodontic Health Month, so what better time to talk about malocclusion. Even if every individual tooth is in perfect health, your mouth can still be in trouble if your bite is wrong. Malocclusion-a bad bite-occurs whenever the peaks and valleys of your upper teeth fail to fit precisely into those of your lower teeth. A good bite meshes your teeth like the gears in fine machinery.
Personal causes: A bad bite can result from a missing tooth, extra teeth, crowded teeth, too much space between teeth, thumb sucking after permanent teeth have grown in, gum disease or cavities.
Environmental causes: It’s not necessarily anything you did. Over generations our diets have grown softer, requiring less chewing. Club sandwiches no longer feature food we clubbed ourselves. Our faces are longer, deeper, and narrower-our teeth quite literally don’t fit our faces anymore!
Results: Malocclusion can shift positions, erode teeth and bridgework, cause stress where the jaw hinges, and create muscle tension. Worst of all is the pain-headaches, earaches, and spasms of the facial muscles are all possible.
Solutions: We can inventory your teeth and check for tooth mobility and wear. Then we’ll measure and identify the points of contact between your teeth when your mouth is closed. Minor reshaping may be all that’s needed to get her to bite back in sync. An old crown or filling may need rebuilding, or a missing tooth replaced. Other tricks up our bite alignment sleeves include mouth guards, removable appliances, implants, Invisalign, deprogrammers, and referrals for advanced orthodontic intervention.
We see it every day in our practice: it’s never too late. Along with their kids, more adults are seeking straighter teeth and smoother dental function. Our goal is to keep your teeth meshed properly and your mouth humming. Just remember….keep in touch with your teeth-and your teeth in touch with each other. Because a strong, sound smile is valued by us all.