Malocclusion – What Is It And What Problems Can It Cause?

How an uneven bite can create dental problems over a period of time.

Brace straightening teethHave you ever seen a celebrity or TV personality who seems to have perfect teeth and thought how lucky they are? If so, it is worth remembering that most may well have had cosmetic dental treatment in order for their teeth to look that way.

Likely treatments include teeth whitening and possibly even veneers. Less obvious, but equally important for a great, healthy smile are straight teeth and this may also have required orthodontic (braces) treatment.

Whilst some of us may have crooked teeth that are not the most attractive to look at, there are likely more of us who have an uneven bite. In some people this may be barely noticeable, whilst in others more pronounced.

Whilst orthodontic appliances are perhaps best known for creating even and attractive smiles, they also have an important role in correcting a malocclusion, or ‘bad bite’.

What is a “bad” bite?

A bad or uneven bite is when our teeth don’t meet evenly as they should do. This means that additional force is applied to areas of our teeth when we chew and break down our food as we eat. In some people, an incorrect bite might be obvious, but even a small malocclusion can cause problems for our teeth. Although visual problems such as an under or overbite are the most obvious issues because they can be quite visible, longer term damage to our teeth can also occur. Possible problems include:

Broken teeth – This is one of the more dramatic things that can happen, especially where the bad bite is particularly significant. Over time, the additional force applied to the affected area of the tooth is likely to cause it to weaken and it may eventually break.

Enamel wear – Especially where front teeth overlap, there is a good chance that there will be gradual enamel wear on the surface of the teeth. Not only does this increase the risk of tooth decay but it is likely to cause the teeth to become sensitive and affected by both hot and cold temperatures. It may also cause the structure of the tooth to weaken and cause the teeth to become chipped or cracked.

Jaw problems – Another issue that can arise with an uneven bite, especially when it happens over a long period of time, is that additional strain can be placed upon the ‘hinges’ of the jaw. This can lead to jaw problems such as TMJ (temporomandibular jaw) disorder. This can cause quite a bit of discomfort for sufferers and clicking or popping sensations are not uncommon, with some also experiencing discomfort not only in the jaw, but also the neck and head areas.

Correcting malocclusion issues

In many cases, it may not be obvious to the patient that they have an uneven bite. This is more likely to be picked up by one of our team of Wickford dentists during routine examinations. Tell tale signs such as uneven wearing of the teeth may indicate that this is a problem.

The usual treatment to correct this problem is the use of orthodontics and more likely the type of dental braces which need to be worn for longer periods in order for them to reposition the teeth correctly.

There are two main types of orthodontics available. The first work along the lines of traditional braces, using a series of wires and brackets that are attached to the teeth. Another solution is Invisalign, a clear aligner which uses a different system altogether, replacing the wires and brackets with a series of transparent trays that fit over the teeth and gradually correct their position.

We will discuss the merits of each of these systems with you should you require this treatment. Increasingly though, patients are opting for Invisalign due to their discreet wearing and ease of use.

Although we are currently closed except for offering urgent dental advice via the phone, we hope that it won’t be too long before we are able to open the Cygnet Dental Practice again. Not all dental problems occur suddenly as we can see above. If you live in the Wickford area and are currently not registered with a local dentist, why not make a note to arrange an appointment with us once we are open again? Ongoing check ups are the best way to spot and treat potential problems before they become more serious.

For urgent emergency dental advice, you can contact us by calling on 01268 733078. Our team are on hand to receive your call.