Orthodontists are experts in straightening teeth, but did you also know they are experts in aligning your bite? From an orthodontic standpoint, your bite refers to the way your top teeth meet with your bottom teeth. Just as your teeth can be crooked, your top and bottom teeth may also not meet together properly. When this happens, it is known as bad bite or malocclusion. There are seven different types of malocclusion that orthodontists commonly see in their patients. These can include:
An open bite is characterized by an inability for the upper and lower teeth to meet when the mouth is closed. With a posterior open bite, the front teeth meet and the back teeth do not. With an anterior open bite, the back teeth meet and the front do not. Anterior open bites can occur from tongue thrusting, thumb or pacifier sucking, or mouth breathing. Open bites can cause problems with speech and swallowing if they are not treated.
A crossbite is characterized by upper teeth fitting inside of the lower teeth. This type of bite is generally caused by the misalignment of teeth or bones. If left untreated, crossbites can cause the jaw to shift to one side and can cause the jaw to grow unevenly. It can also cause premature enamel wear as the teeth rub together.
An underbite is characterized by a lower jaw that extends out past the upper jaw. In most cases, underbites are simply inherited from your parents, however thumb sucking can also contribute to an underbite. If not treated, underbites can place excess strain on the jaw joint and can give the face a “bulldog” appearance.
A deep bite is characterized by upper teeth that cover most of the lower teeth when the mouth is closed. Deep bites can cause damage to the lower gums and the roof of the mouth since the teeth extend too far. When not treated, a deep bite can also lead to gum disease and premature enamel wear.
Crowding is characterized by too many teeth that are unable to fit properly in the mouth. In some cases, crowding can also be caused by teeth that are too big. Since there is a limited amount of space, crowded teeth will end up rotating, overlapping, or being staggered in order to fit. This makes it harder to brush and floss properly, which increases the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
Spacing is characterized by too much space between the teeth. In most cases, spacing occurs because the jaw is too big or the teeth are too small. Although gaps between the teeth are mostly a cosmetic issue, food can also get stuck in the gaps causing cavities and gum disease.
Characterized by the front teeth sticking out from the mouth. Protrusion generally occurs when the upper jaw is too far forward or when the teeth erupt at an angle. In some cases, it can be a combination of the two. If not treated, protruding teeth can become easily damaged, can cause speech problems, and can make it hard to close the mouth.
Dr. Williams is up to date with all of the latest techniques and theories in the practice of orthodontics and is an active member of the American Association of Orthodontists. He is dedicated to providing the highest quality of orthodontic care to every patient.