Common Types of Teeth Misalignment & Bite Problems
Whether your teeth are too big for your mouth, or your upper and lower jaw aren’t the same size, there are many reasons why teeth and bites end up misaligned. A lot of the time, crooked teeth and misaligned bites are inherited, but it could also be caused by an early loss of baby or adult teeth, pacifier use, injury to the jaw and thumb sucking, just to name a few.
Beyond the cosmetic impact of misaligned teeth, crooked teeth are harder to clean and can increase the likelihood of cavities, tooth decay and gum disease. Misaligned bites can cause you to chew improperly, and the strain on your jaw and teeth may increase the risk of breaking a tooth.
The good news is, there are ways to fix it and avoid the dental problems associated with misaligned teeth.
Common Types of Misalignment
There are a variety of misalignment types that can impact your teeth. Here are some of the most common types of bite and tooth alignment problems that we see:
Crowding: Crowding of the teeth is the most common problem associated with the need for orthodontic treatment. Many factors contribute to dental crowding. The most common reason for crowding is a discrepancy between the space available in each jaw and the size of the teeth. Crowding can lead to impacted teeth, a “bad bite”, and an unaesthetic appearance.
Spacing: Spaces between teeth are another common problem associated with the need for orthodontic treatment. Like crowding, spacing is also often caused by a discrepancy between the space available in each jaw and the size of the teeth. Spacing can also arise from teeth that are missing or are smaller than normal.
Overjet: Overjet is defined as the horizontal protrusion of the upper teeth in front of the lower teeth. Overjet is often seen with a Class II malocclusion, which occurs when the top jaw is located ahead of the bottom jaw (due to a large top jaw, a small bottom jaw, or a combination of the two). Thumb and finger sucking habits can also cause excessive overjet.
Overbite: Overbite is defined as the vertical overlapping of the upper teeth over the lower teeth. A deep overbite (or deep bite) occurs when the upper front teeth completely (or mostly) cover the lower front teeth. Often, this causes the lower front teeth to bite on the gums behind the upper front teeth, causing damage to the gum tissue and underlying bone.
Openbite: An openbite is defined as a lack of vertical overlap of the incisor (front) teeth. It results when the upper and lower front teeth do not touch when biting down. An openbite can be caused by abnormal growth of one of both jaws or it can be caused by a thumb or finger sucking habit. In some instances, a tongue thrust (which occurs when the tongue moves between the front teeth during swallowing) may also be a contributing factor to an openbite. When biting down, the space between the upper and lower front teeth causes excessive pressure on the back teeth. Over time, this excessive pressure can cause abnormal tooth wear on the back teeth, or problems with the gums and bone surrounding the back teeth.
Underbite: An underbite occurs when the lower front teeth protrude in front of the upper front teeth. It is often seen with a Class III malocclusion, where there is a large lower jaw, a small upper jaw, or a combination of the two. An underbite is also known as an anterior crossbite.
Crossbite: A crossbite occurs when the top teeth fit inside of the bottom teeth. In a normal jaw relationship, the top teeth should be located outside of the bottom teeth. A crossbite can occur with the front teeth (anterior crossbite) or with the back teeth (posterior crossbite). Posterior crossbites usually result from a narrow or constricted upper jaw. Crossbites can cause problems with biting and chewing.
Treatment Options for Misalignment
Treatment options will depend on the severity of your tooth or bite misalignment. Some patients will only require a removeable retainer, while others may need teeth removed if it’s an issue of overcrowding. In rare cases, surgery may be required to correct an extreme overbite or underbite. In most cases, braces are required to correct the problem.
We’ve seen many types of misalignments and have been able to address them with personalized orthodontic treatments. Below is an example of an openbite before and after from our treatment. You can view all of our before and after videos here.
No matter the severity of your bite or tooth misalignment, there is a treatment option for you. Your treatment plan will depend upon many factors, but your orthodontist will guide you along the way and customize the treatment for your specific situation. Contact us today for a free consultation and start your journey to a healthier smile.