The primary type of correction most people associate with orthodontics is straightening teeth. While this is the most visible change most of the time, orthodontic treatment can also fix misaligned bites, which is vital for having a healthy smile. Bite problems come in various forms, each of which can cause major issues with the appearance and overall health of your smile.
What Is a Healthy Smile?
For the jaws to meet comfortably and result in the best-looking smile, the upper jaw should be decently bigger than the lower jaw. This means the upper jaw will rest a little outside the lower jaw without overlapping it. The upper jaw is also positioned further forward than the lower jaw to the point where the upper front teeth fit easily over the lower front teeth without entirely obscuring them.
While a lot of people have teeth that bite down like this, many people have jaws that don’t quite bite down correctly. Others experience more pronounced bite misalignments, which can lead to serious problems.
While everyone should have somewhat of an overbite, the jaw shouldn’t be too forward. People with jaws that protrude too far outward often have irregular looking smiles and suffer from severe discomfort. Overbites lead to jaw pain, teeth grinding, and difficulties speaking and eating.
People with this bite problem also tend to experience tooth decay as a result of not being able to fully close their mouths comfortably while breathing. This dries out the teeth which, consequently, gets rid of saliva that helps prevent tooth decay.
The opposite problem of underbites is also something to be taken seriously. An underbite can vary in severity, with some people having their lower jaw even extend past the upper jaw entirely, resulting in self-confidence issues and potentially physical oral health problems. If the front teeth meet, they can wear down over time. Underbites also lead to speaking and eating difficulties and often result in chronic jaw pain.
When the upper jaw ends up being too small, sometimes even being smaller than the lower jaw, it can result in a crossbite. This misalignment problem results in too much pressure being exerted on the teeth and can quickly wear the teeth down. People with crossbites also often report experiencing headaches and problems with speaking and eating.
Treating Misaligned Bites
Orthodontic treatment can take care of a wide range of bite misalignment problems. Crossbites, overbites, and underbites can all be addressed with early intervention at the age of seven, which is when kids have more malleable jaws.
Underbites and overbites can be treated with braces and Invisalign with the addition of elastic interarch bands, which pull the jaw into proper alignment. For most crossbites, the jaw will need to be resized, which takes a more intense procedure, often surgery, if it isn’t treated until the patient is a teen or adult. With early intervention, a palatal expander can be used to enlarge the top jaw.
If you want to learn more about how to fix bite misalignments along with other benefits of starting orthodontic treatment, contact Smith Orthodontics and schedule your free consultation today!