As the weather warms up and we dust off the grill, we look forward to summer BBQs and grilled corn on the cob. Ever thought about how we chew these delicious treats?
Occlusion is a fancy word to describe the way in which your upper and lower teeth come together when you are chewing. If your bite doesn’t fit together properly, we call it a “malocclusion.” There are 5 major categories of malocclusion or bite problems that we commonly see in children and adults. At Lindner, we work with patients to “take a bite” out of each of these orthodontic issues before they get worse!
A crossbite is where the upper teeth fit inside or behind the lower teeth. This may be caused by misalignment of teeth, crowding, or a discrepancy in the size of the upper and lower jaw bones. Possible consequences of this if not corrected are: wearing down of the outer layer of tooth enamel, and shifting the jaw to one side in order to “find your bite.” Repetitive shifting to one side can eventually lead to asymmetrical jaw growth and TMJ problems.
All of the upper and lower teeth should have contact when you bite together. There should even be some overlap of the front teeth when the back teeth are touching. If the teeth do not overlap in the front, we call that an anterior open bite. This may be caused by habits like thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, mouth breathing, or sometimes it is due to a jaw growth discrepancy. If the open bite is not corrected, this may lead to excessive enamel wear on the teeth that are in contact. It may be difficult to bite into certain foods, like an apple or a sandwich with an open bite.
When the bite is closed, the upper teeth cover the lower teeth too much. A deep bite is often associated with increased enamel wear on the lower front teeth due to excessive contact. If severe, the upper teeth may be rubbing against the lower gums and cause gum recession of the lower teeth. Sometimes the lower teeth can pinch the roof of the mouth, leading to swelling and irritation.
The protrusion is another way to describe the upper teeth that are too far forward or stick out. This may be due to the position of the upper jaw, the angulation of the teeth, or a combination of both. Sometimes this may be associated with a prior habit like thumb sucking. If not corrected, the upper teeth may be more prone to injury during a fall. If severe, it can also be uncomfortable to fully close the mouth and lips around the teeth leading to dry mouth and increased susceptibility to cavities.
If the teeth are larger in size than the amount of space available for them we see crowding. Crowding results in teeth that are overlapping, rotated or crooked. Excess crowding can make it difficult to clean in between the teeth, increasing the risk of cavities and gum disease.
Many of these problems will not correct themselves, and if left untreated can get worse over time. Many times, bite problems are best treated in a child who is still growing. The goal of orthodontic treatment is to create a healthy bite where the teeth line up and the bite forces are distributed evenly throughout the mouth. If you have concerns about your bite, call at 603.624.3900 or contact online to schedule a free consultation with one of our friendly orthodontists at Lindner Dental Associates.