What Causes A Bad Bite...
By drchip@parrishdental.com
May 06, 2015
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What Causes A Bad Bite…

                I’m often amazed at how exquisitely our bodies are designed. Our teeth included. In the “ideal” situation, our teeth, jaw joints, and jaw muscles work in perfect harmony. All of the angles and all of the surfaces of our teeth have both rhyme and reason. When a person’s bite is correct, the teeth hit evenly and function as a team.

                Unfortunately, research shows that nearly 20% (that’s 1 in 5 Americans) have “deviations from the ideal bite relationship.”  That’s a lot of people with a “bad bite.”

                The dental term for a “bad bite” is malocclusion. Malocclusions come in many forms and there are multiple ways to correct each type. Often, a bad bite involves much more than just the teeth and the way they touch or miss each other.

                To give a person their proper bite, five systems must work in unison:  the teeth, the jaw joints, the muscles of the head and neck, the bones of the skull, and the nerves that control all of the above. If any one of these systems is out of sorts, a malocclusion follows.

                Lost and worn teeth are two of the most common causes of malocclusion in adults.  Losing a single tooth (unless it’s the very back tooth in the jaw) causes shifting in all adjacent and opposing teeth. Losing more than one tooth usually leads to major shifting and bite changes. Sprinkle in a little tooth wear from diet, daytime clenching, or nighttime sleep disorders and things can really get painful. When this shifting and wear occurs, the jaw joints must compensate to keep the teeth hitting together so that we can eat.

                Properly functioning jaw joints are crucial to a healthy bite. Once the jaws start playing gymnastics to make the teeth hit properly, damage within the joints begins to occur. This can lead to headaches and chronic arthritic conditions in the joints.

                The muscles that move the lower jaw up, down, and side to side are another key component to healthy occlusion.  Interferences or changes with the way that teeth hit together can cause these muscles to splint and spasm.  These spasms can protect certain teeth from getting damaged in the short term, but often lead to headaches and chronic jaw pain over time.

                The size of the skull bones has a huge effect on the proper alignment of teeth. If the jaw bones are not the proper size to match the size of the teeth, a person’s bite and tooth alignment will be compromised. Small jaws and big teeth lead to crooked teeth and a malocclusion.

All of these systems have nerves and blood vessels that supply nutrients, control, and feedback to our brains.  A malocclusion can lead to damage or pinching of these “supply lines” and cause symptoms in the teeth, jaw joints, and the muscles of the head and neck.

Modern dentistry has more than one solution to each of these problems.  There are a variety of treatments that can fix or greatly improve the causes and symptoms of a bad bite. 

Your bite does not have to stay “bad.”

Until next week, keep smiling.

-Please send ideas to Drs. Parrish at www.ParrishDental.com.