Are you one of the nearly 30% of Americans who suffers from malocclusion, more casually known as a “bad bite”? If so, your teeth might experience symptoms like pain, visible wear, or even temperature sensitivity. Even worse, malocclusion can lead to worse problems down the line if untreated.
What is Malocclusion?
Malocclusion simply refers to a problem with the way that your teeth fit together. A healthy bite will make it easy to chew and close the teeth, whereas a bad bite could result in a host of unpleasant symptoms, including teeth grinding (bruxism).
Some teeth in your mouth have flat surfaces, and others are more pointed. Some teeth are long, and some are shorter. In this way, your teeth come together like a puzzle when you close your mouth. But if your teeth come together in a way that is crooked or misaligned, your teeth can hit each other in all the wrong places. This can cause wear and damage to teeth that aren’t supposed to touch, discomfort or pain if some of your tooth surfaces are hitting harder than others, and can create tension in the entire jaw and mouth that can lead to headaches, muscle pain, and even TMJ.
What Causes a Bad Bite?
There is no one cause of a bad bite. Some people had a healthy bite but experienced trauma, such as a sports injury or car accident, that affected their bite. Others simply grow into a bad bite naturally. A recent study is trying to shed light on what can cause the development of a bad bite, and what that bite can tell us about the patient’s overall health.
Anthropologists have long used asymmetry–when one side is different from the other–in the skull and teeth as an indicator of environmental stress that ultimately leads to degenerative diseases. Despite this recognition of the role that developmental stress plays in the growth of the teeth, little attention had been paid to such things in the context of modern dental work on living patients. That’s why the research team at the University of Washington decided to review survey data from the 60s and see if they could find a correlation.
What they found was that asymmetry in the bite clearly coordinated with a generation that boasted record numbers of obese and diabetic adults. Unfortunately, lack of reliable data on facial asymmetry in more recent surveys makes it difficult to compare those historical results to modern ones, which means more research will need to be done to determine whether or not facial asymmetry is a reliable indicator of chronic disease.
What Can Be Done About a Bad Bite?
If your bite doesn’t come together like it should, an experienced dentist can help solve the problem. Whether your bite problems are impacting your oral health and quality of life, or simply cosmetic, orthodontics like Invisalign or reconstructive dentistry like porcelain veneers or dental implants can solve the problems. With the help of a great cosmetic dentist, everything from a crooked smile to TMJ can be treated.