The aesthetics of a perfect runway smile are powerful. A beautiful smile isn’t just a confidence booster, but also makes a great first impression and can open doors of opportunity. Unfortunately, very few of us are born with perfectly aligned, straight teeth. In fact, a bad bite, also called a malocclusion, ranks as one of the most common dental issues.
Worldwide about 56% of the general population — adults and children regardless of gender — suffer from a bad bite. In some countries, malocclusion ranks as high as 81%. The good news, says Dr. Jean Seibold McGill at McGill Orthodontics in Easton and Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, is that a vast majority of bite issues can be addressed with orthodontic treatment with either braces or aligners.
A great jumping-off place for this discussion is to explain why optimal tooth alignment is important in the first place. While it’s true that a perfectly aligned smile is pleasing to the eye, having a proper bite is so much more than the aesthetic value.
Proper teeth and jaw alignment have a functional value, which allows you to chew your food properly and makes it easier for you to keep your teeth and gums healthy and clean.
In contrast, when you have a bite issue you’re more apt to have breathing problems or conditions like snoring, sleep apnea, temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD), or even difficulty speaking clearly.
When we refer to malocclusion or bite issues, we’re really talking about the relationship between the position of your upper and lower jaw, specifically the ability of your upper and lower jaw to align ideally to take a proper bite. Following are a few common bite issues.
One of the most common malocclusions is space-related — called crowding. Either due to the size of your jaw or big teeth, or a combination of the two, there simply isn’t enough space for all your teeth to properly erupt. Crowding may result in overlapping, rotated, crooked teeth, or teeth that take on a staggered appearance.
In contrast, another bite issue occurs when there’s too much space or gaps between your teeth. This scenario typically plays out when your teeth are oddly sized, if your jaw size causes a problem, or a combination of the two.
Underbites and overbites are other common types of bite issues. With an underbite, your lower teeth overlap your upper teeth. This is also called an anterior crossbite. An overbite works the opposite way with your front teeth and upper jaw overlapping your lower front teeth.
The malocclusion known as a crossbite exists when one or more of your upper teeth fit inside your lower teeth. A crossbite can lead to a variety of oral issues like jaw pain or TMD, as well as excessive wear on your teeth enamel.
In contrast, a malocclusion called an open bite keeps your top and bottom teeth from meeting, leaving them stuck in an open position. Typically an open bite happens due to problems with your jaw position, teeth alignment, or a little bit of both. It can also be caused by a finger or tongue sucking habit.
While the prevalence of bite problems may seem overwhelming, the good news is that orthodontists have more tools and treatment options at the ready than ever before. Thankfully, gone are the days when metal braces and headgear are the go-tos. Today, bite issues can be addressed not only by robust styles and brands of braces but also by virtually invisible clear, tray-based aligner systems.
But that’s not where the benefits end. In many cases, today’s orthodontic treatment options such as clear aligner trays can tackle bite issues in less time than yesterday’s old metal braces.
If you have bite issues and want to learn what orthodontic treatment option is right for you, contact McGill Orthodontics to schedule a free orthodontic consultation. Call our office most convenient to you or request your appointment online today.