An uneven bite, often referred to as malocclusion by dentists and dental technicians, occurs when the teeth in the upper and lower jaws do not align properly. It can lead to various dental problems, such as tooth decay, gum infection, and even severe jaw pain.
Since it’s not just the enemy of a perfect smile but of oral hygiene and health, allow us to explain all there is to know about this dental condition in the following text. We’ll cover the most common causes and symptoms, as well as treatment options that are available today.
Types of Malocclusion
Namely, there are four distinct types of malocclusion, and each type affects the teeth and jaw in different ways:
- The most common type of malocclusion refers to the teeth that are straight, but with upper teeth slightly overlapping the lower ones. This type usually does not cause any significant issues, but it may make it difficult to clean between the teeth, leading to tooth decay and gum disease.
- The second type of malocclusion is also known as an overbite. The upper teeth, in this instance, extend more forward than the lower ones, resulting in a recessed appearance of the chin. Over time, this can cause uneven wear on the teeth and can lead to jaw pain and different TMJ disorders.
- The third type of malocclusion is known as an underbite. This time, the lower teeth protrude further forward than the upper teeth, and the chin appears prominent. This can cause problems with chewing and speaking and lead to jaw pain and TMJ disorders.
- Lastly, the fourth type of malocclusion occurs when the upper teeth do not align properly with the lower teeth. That can cause uneven wear on the teeth and can again lead to jaw pain and TMJ disorders.
Causes of Uneven Bite
Similarly to other medical and dental conditions, an uneven bite can occur due to different factors, including genetics, dental habits, injuries, and problematic jaw development. Now that we’ve mentioned them, let’s expand briefly on each of these factors.
- Genetics: The shape and size of your jaw, teeth, and mouth can be inherited from your parents, which can lead to malocclusion. If they had the same issue, the chances are that you’ll have it too.
- Bad dental habits: Thumb-sucking, tongue-thrusting, and prolonged pacifier use can affect the development of the jaw and teeth, which will, in turn, lead to uneven bite/malocclusion.
- Physical injuries: Trauma to the jaw or teeth can cause a malocclusion, especially if it affects the alignment of the jaw. Such injuries are common in contact sports, such as football, where it’s recommended to use a mouth guard.
- Dental problems: In case you’re missing a tooth, your jaw is crowded, or you have misaligned teeth, the chances are that you’ll face an uneven bite at some point.
Symptoms of Uneven Bite
When it comes to the symptoms of an uneven bite, they can vary depending on the severity of the malocclusion. Frequent ones include:
- Having difficulties biting and chewing: An uneven bite can make it difficult to bite and chew food properly. Due to the upper and lower jaw not aligning properly, a person with this condition will have trouble eating normally.
- Tooth wear: Malocclusion can cause certain teeth to wear down faster than others.
- Severe pain in the jaw: Misaligned teeth can put extra pressure on the joint of the jaw, causing pain and discomfort.
- Headaches: The strain on the jaw muscles caused by an uneven bite can lead to headaches.
- Problems speaking: Misaligned teeth can affect speech, causing lisps or other speech impediments.
Treatment Options for Uneven Bite
Luckily for all who have issues with uneven teeth, there are several treatment options available at professional dental services. Of course, they vary depending on the severity of the malocclusion and how much it affects someone’s day-to-day life.
- Orthodontic treatment: Braces or clear aligners can be used to move teeth into the correct position and create a more even bite.
- Tooth reshaping: In some cases, the dentist may reshape the teeth to improve their alignment and create a more even bite.
- Jaw surgery: In severe cases of malocclusion, jaw surgery may be necessary to correct the alignment of the upper and lower jaws.
- Retainers: Once orthodontic treatment is complete, the patient may be fitted with a retainer to help maintain the alignment of the teeth.
- Mouth guards: For patients who grind their teeth at night, a custom-made mouth guard can be worn to protect the teeth and prevent further damage.
Preventing Uneven Bite
While some causes of uneven bite, such as genetics, cannot be prevented, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of malocclusion. Namely, it can affect children’s oral health and development. It’s important to detect and treat it early to prevent further complications, as children with malocclusion may have difficulty eating and speaking.
Firstly, parents should make sure their children avoid prolonged thumb-sucking, as this practice can lead to the jaw not forming properly. Of course, it’s key to practice proper oral hygiene by brushing and flossing your teeth regularly. This way, you’ll prevent tooth decay and gum disease, which are common factors that lead to an uneven bite.
Another way to make sure you prevent an uneven bite while your child is young is to teach them not to breathe through their mouth. And in case you, or they, are into sports, especially contact ones like football or hockey, you should make sure to use a mouth guard. It will protect your jaw from physical trauma, which often leads to an uneven bite after injury.
The Best Place to Eliminate Uneven Bite
As mentioned, an uneven bite can cause various dental problems and affect your overall health and well-being. If you experience any symptoms of malocclusion, such as difficulty biting and chewing or jaw pain, you should contact Wellness Dental Care in Ravenswood, Chicago, IL for the best possible service in the area.
With the right treatment, an uneven bite can be corrected, improving your dental health and quality of life. Luckily for you or your child, the professionals at Wellness Dental Care are capable of turning your jaw into a picture-perfect example. And if you have any other dental issues, don’t hesitate to make your appointment as soon as possible.