Malocclusion: When Good Mouths Bite Badly

  • March 23, 2017

Biting is really what teeth are made for. Sure, they help you talk (try saying the word “the” without touching your teeth), and a full set of healthy teeth helps you look great. But when it comes right down to it, teeth are there to tear, rip, and crush your food so you can swallow it. How you bite is important. And that’s why malocclusion — when your teeth are misaligned and you don’t bite normally — can be a big problem.

In a perfect world, your upper teeth will match perfectly with your lower teeth. But we all know life is never perfect, which means your bite could have a problem. This is especially true with teens, who have just finished getting their adult teeth in. In fact, there are several different malocclusion problems that can hit your teeth:

  • Overbite: You have an overbite if your upper teeth close over your lower teeth when you bite down. While there can be many causes, it’s usually due to genetics (you just happen to have an overbite), bad dental hygiene, or the jawbone just being overdeveloped. An overbite can cause extra wear-and-tear on your lower teeth, lead to pain in the jaw or TMJ (the jaw joint), and irritate your gums.
  • Underbite: The opposite of an overbite, this is when your lower teeth close over your upper teeth. It’s often caused by genetics, the lower jaw growing too far, or the upper jaw growing too little, but it can also be caused by missing some of your upper teeth. Underbites can cause similar problems as well: extra stress and wear on your upper teeth, gum irritation, and TMJ pain.
  • Open bite: Your teeth are supposed to naturally meet when you bite down, so an open bite is when your teeth do not. This is typically due to genetics, abnormal bone growth/structure, or aggressive and long-lasting thumb sucking as a child. (If this happens with your primary teeth, the permanent teeth coming in later will often be fine. But many kids continue to suck their thumbs well after the permanent teeth have come in, causing the open bite.) An open bite makes it harder to chew properly, can lead to TMJ pain, and can even impact your ability to speak properly.
  • Cross bite: Besides meeting naturally when you bite, your teeth should be aligned properly. That means your incisors should meet incisors, molars meet molars, and so on. With a cross bite, the upper and lower jaw are misaligned, causing your upper teeth to come in contact with the inside of your lower teeth. (And on the other side of your mouth, the opposite is true; your lower teeth can touch the insides of your upper teeth.) Because your teeth are coming into contact with each other in such an unnatural way, cross bites can lead to irregular wear on the enamel, gum disease, and even loss of bone tissue.
  • Crowded bite: Everyone is supposed to have a full set of teeth, but not everyone’s jaw can handle that. A crowded bite is when your teeth are squeezed into an area too small for all of the teeth. This makes your smile look bad, but worse, it can increase your chances of gum disease, tooth decay, and making your teeth crooked.

How Invisalign Can Help With Malocclusion

The “invisible braces” known as Invisalign are an effective orthodontic treatment. They act like braces in that they are used to fix problems with crooked teeth, but because they don’t use metal brackets or wires, they are much more comfortable. In fact, because Invisalign is a series of clear plastic trays that fit comfortably over your teeth, they are almost impossible to see.

But because they are a real, effective orthodontic treatment, Invisalign can help correct malocclusion as well. Whether you are suffering from an overbite, underbite, open bite, cross bite, or crowded bite, Invisalign can slowly but surely move your teeth and shift your jaw to correct those problems.

Malocclusion is when your bite doesn’t line up like it should. This can lead to many problems, including a higher chance of getting tooth decay, gum disease, and TMJ pain. But thanks to the Invisalign “invisible braces” that we offer from our Sterling Heights, MI office, we can correct all kinds of bite issues. If you have any questions about Invisalign, or if you are ready to make your next appointment, call us today at 586-739-1111.