If you weren’t born with a perfectly aligned and straight bite, you are not alone. As with most physical traits, a smile comes in many different shapes and sizes. However, although having blue eyes versus brown eyes is not likely to affect your health, the presence of crooked teeth or a misaligned bite can certainly affect your dental health.
Most crooked teeth, underbites and overbites are actually inherited. However, tooth misalignment can also be a result of other factors including:
- Mouth size is too small
- Upper and lower jaw are not the same size
- Early loss of baby or adult teeth
- Improper fit of fillings or crowns
- Gum disease
- Abnormal pressure on the teeth and gums
- Misalignment of the jaw after an injury
- Tumors of the mouth or jaw
- Oral health habits as a child such as thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, prolonged pacifier or bottle use
Regardless of what has caused you to have a misaligned bite, the dental health ramifications remain the same. Not only can crooked teeth impact a person’s self-esteem, but it can also make it very difficult to keep teeth clean. With hygiene challenges, people with misaligned bites are at a greater risk for tooth decay and gingivitis. In addition, malocclusion (misaligned bite) can also cause improper chewing and undue strain on the teeth, jaws and muscles over time.
Only your dentist can tell you if your malocclusion warrants treatment. An overbite or underbite can be corrected using orthodontic treatment. Today, there are many options for both teens and adults in orthodontics. Your dentist can help determine if clear braces, traditional metal braces, Invisalign or other removable retainer will work best for you. Occasionally, your dentist may use tooth extraction to eliminate crowding and make room for a straighter, aligned smile.
It is very important that you pay attention to the way your teeth function. Whether you need orthodontic treatment or simply more scheduled professional cleanings on the calendar, it is essential that you take the steps towards a healthy and functional smile!