Having a great smile consists of much more than having pearly whites. Bite problems (aka malocclusions) keep your teeth from looking straight and beautiful, and can hold you back from having the smile of your dreams. Overcoming these bite problems is one of the primary goals of orthodontic treatment, which will help transform your smile into one that you’re proud of. While each individual patient has unique bite issues to correct, there are seven broad categories that are commonly found in children and adults alike.
An overbite (aka Deep bite) is when the upper jaw and front teeth overlap the lower front teeth too much. This can be caused by genetics, grinding teeth, or jaw issues. According to the American Dental Association, nearly 70% of children show some signs of having an overbite.
An overbite can cause the upper front teeth to bite down into the lower gums, or cause the lower teeth to bite up into the roof of the mouth. Jaw pain, headaches, discomfort, or pain while chewing/eating, trouble opening or closing the mouth all the way, and even speech difficulties can also be caused by an overbite.
An underbite is when the lower front teeth are in front of all of the upper front teeth when biting down, usually from the lower jaw being too far forward. This can be caused by genetics, but childhood behaviors can also contribute to an underbite, including overusing a pacifier, excessive thumb sucking, excessive bottle feeding, and tongue thrusting.
An underbite can cause the face to have a “bulldog” appearance from the bottom jaw being too far forward. Underbite can also cause TMJ issues, headaches, eating/chewing difficulties, chronic mouth breathing, speech difficulties, and even sleep apnea, a serious sleep disorder.
A crossbite is when one or more upper teeth bite inside the lower teeth, causing the teeth to not line up properly. This can happen on one or both sides of the jaw and can affect the front or back teeth. A crossbite can occur if the lower jaw bone is wider than the upper jaw bone, from delayed or abnormal tooth eruption, thumb sucking, and other childhood habits.
A crossbite can cause jaw pain or TMJ issues from uneven pressure on the jaw muscles. Another common problem caused by crossbite is accelerated enamel wear due to certain parts of the teeth wearing away quicker than others. This can lead to several other issues, including food pockets that increase tooth decay and the risk of gum disease.
An overjet is when the top teeth stick too far out in front of the lower teeth. This can be caused by skeletal issues such as the lower jaw sitting too far back, or the upper jaw arch being longer than the lower jaw arch. Another common cause is childhood habits such as excessive thumb sucking, prolonged pacifier use, or tongue-thrusting which push the upper front teeth outward.
An overjet can cause difficulties with eating/chewing, make it hard to comfortably close the mouth all the way, and speech problems. An overjet can also make it easier for the upper teeth to be accidentally damaged or break and can affect the physical appearance of the face by making it look longer and more narrow.
An open bite is when the front teeth don’t overlap the lower teeth, causing a gap between the upper and lower teeth when biting down. An open bite generally has four main causes: excessive thumb or pacifier sucking, tongue thrusting, jaw issues (aka TMJ disorders), or a skeletal/developmental problem.
An open bite can cause speech difficulties (many people with an open bite develop a lisp), accelerated wear on the back teeth compared to the front teeth, and difficulties chewing and eating food. An open bite can also be very noticeable, causing people to be unhappy with the appearance of their smile.
Crowding is a very common condition that’s generally caused by a lack of space in the mouth, causing teeth to grow crooked and overlap. Minor crowding is actually considered a normal condition because it is found in almost everyone to some degree. Since it is so common, crowding is the #1 reason for orthodontic treatment among adults.
Crowding can cause cavities, gingivitis, and gum disease because there are many more areas for food and bacteria to get caught in. Cleaning teeth properly because much harder with crooked teeth, so it is even more important to practice good dental hygiene habits. Crowding can also cause headaches and difficulties eating/chewing because the teeth do not align properly when biting.
Spacing is a condition when the front teeth are separated by large gaps. This generally forms when a person’s teeth are too small for the jaw bone, and so the teeth have gaps from being spaced too far apart. This is very common in children and is often caused by excessive thumb sucking or tongue thrusting. Some children are even born missing teeth, which may cause gaps.
Spacing can cause an increased risk of cavities and gum disease because it is easier for food to get stuck between teeth. It is important to maintain good dental hygiene to prevent this.
Since starting our orthodontic practice in 1989, the team at Paquette Orthodontics has helped thousands of people achieve healthy, beautiful smiles, no matter what type of bite problems they originally had. We take pride in every smile transformation we’ve helped create, and our passion shows in the quality of care we strive to give every patient. Our patients are our extended family, and we would love to welcome you into our family. Call us today at (704) 799-3777 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation.