Did you know that our teeth are meant to fit together in a specific way? That’s how we chew our food effectively and pronounce our words clearly. When someone’s upper and lower teeth do not fit together well, that is called a malocclusion or a bad “bad bite.” Malocclusions can contribute to jaw problems and speech impediments, make teeth more likely to break or wear with time, lead to periodontal challenges and even make digestion less efficient.
Malocclusions can precipitate due to genetics. However, oftentimes poor oral habits in childhood - like thumbsucking, lip sucking, tongue thrusting, nail biting, teeth clenching, and mouth breathing - are the contributing factors. Orthodontic treatment can correct malocclusions, such as:
- EXCESSIVE OVERJET: the upper front teeth are ahead of the lower teeth by too much for a healthy bite.
- DEEP BITE: such a severe overbite that the upper front teeth completely overlap the lower front teeth, which may even drive into the gums behind the upper teeth, risking injury to the gum tissue.
- OPEN BITE: sometimes the result of a tongue thrust habit or aggressive thumbsucking in the preschool years and beyond. The upper front teeth flare out, leaving a gap between them and their lower counterparts when biting down.
- CROSSBITE: when the jaw is closed, a misalignment of teeth in which the lower tooth or teeth are wider or on the outside of the upper teeth
- UNDERBITE: when the jaw is closed, the lower teeth jut out in front of the upper teeth.
- CROWDING: when there is not enough space for teeth to alight linearly or straight.
- SPACING: when there are extra gaps present between teeth.