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Types of Bad Bites and Their Treatments

January 14th, 2020

WHAT IS A BAD BITE? A bad bite, also called a malocclusion, is when the upper and lower teeth don’t fit together the way they should. Depending on the type of malocclusion, this can cause a variety of problems, from impacting speech to making digestion less efficient to worsening TMD troubles, and they can even increase the risk of breaking a tooth!

What Makes a Bite Go Bad?

Malocclusions happen for different reasons. Some are caused by genetics. If a child inherits large teeth from Dad and a small jaw from Mom, there’s a good chance their teeth won’t be able to fit together well. Other causes include injuries and bad oral habits in the developmental years, including thumbsucking, lip sucking, tongue thrusting, nail biting, mouth breathing, and teeth clenching.

By discouraging these kinds of bad habits, parents can help their children grow up with healthier bites. If one of these habits does cause a malocclusion, it’s still important to break the habit so that bite problems don’t come back after orthodontic treatment. Luckily, we can help with that.

Different Types of Malocclusions

When the teeth and jaws are aligned correctly, the upper teeth rest slightly over the lower teeth while the jaw is closed, and the points of the upper molars fit nicely into the grooves of the lower molars. Here are the five most common ways a bite can differ from this healthy ideal:

  • Open Bite. The front upper teeth flare out, creating a gap between them and the lower front teeth even when biting down. (Can be caused by thumbsucking beyond toddler years or a tongue thrust.)
  • Underbite. When biting down, the lower teeth overlap or partially cover the upper teeth.
  • Crossbite. Some upper teeth bite down on the inside of the lower teeth while others bite down on the outside.
  • Excessive Overjet. The upper teeth flare forward or overjet  the lower teeth beyond what we want to see in a healthy bite, preventing the front teeth from working together properly.
  • Deep Bite. An overbite so severe that, when biting down, the upper front teeth completely overlap the lower front teeth, which sometimes drive into the gums behind the upper teeth, risking gum injury, tooth injury and other problems.

Fixing Malocclusions with Orthodontic Treatment

Each of these types of malocclusions, and others, can be corrected through orthodontic treatment. Now, before you start picturing bulky headgear, remember that the field of orthodontics has come a long way. Surgery and headgear are still sometimes necessary for extreme cases, but we can typically correct a bad bite in very low profile and hassle-free ways.

Have You Scheduled an Initial Consultation Yet?

If you have concerns about the way your teeth bite down, schedule an initial consultation so we can see if a bad bite or some other alignment problem is the source of your troubles. Don’t wait to start working towards a healthier, more functional, and more confident smile!

We appreciate every member of our practice family!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image by Flickr user Fake Plastic Alice used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

Making Room For Your Gorgeous New Smile

January 7th, 2020

Teeth Crowding

One of the most common issues orthodontic treatment addresses is crowding—when there is not enough space for all the teeth to fit normally, causing them to twist and turn.

Often, braces are enough to rearrange teeth into a healthy dental arch, but in some cases, extra space needs to be gained to properly align everything.

Slenderizing Teeth

When a minimal amount of space is needed, your orthodontist can actually slenderize some of your teeth to help create a little extra space. This is called "interproximal reduction", which is really just a fancy term for sanding in between your teeth. But don't worry! Your teeth won't get noticeably smaller - only 0.25 to 0.75 millimeters of enamel is removed from either side of any tooth as we need to make sure to leave plenty of healthy enamel behind!

Jaw Expansion/Arch Expansion

In some cases, the upper jaw bone itself is too small to fit the top teeth and to fit around the lower jaw. An expander is required in those cases, and will actually make the upper jaw bone larger. This is a treatment that can typically only be performed in growing children/adolescents, however.

Another type of expansion can be done with just the brackets and wires. By reshaping the dental arch and widening it, we can gain a few millimeters of space, which helps us to fit in more of your teeth! While this is an awesome option, there is a limit, as we cannot push the teeth beyond where the gum and bone are to support them.

Some Teeth Just Don’t Fit

 In cases of extreme dental crowding, extractions are often the best option for beginning to align your teeth. Removing teeth can also be key in solving underbite, overbite, and problems with protrusive teeth. Every person is unique when it comes to extractions - some people need one tooth removed, others need two, or even four!

When performed by an experienced specialist, removing a tooth is simple and pain free. If you have any questions about the process, please talk to us!

Making Room For Your Perfect Smile

We understand that the decision to extract a tooth is not one to be taken lightly. We carefully examine dental models, x-rays, photos, and jaw structure to determine the best way to create your beautiful new smile. By considering all treatment options, we find the one that will most efficiently give you the best results in the safest and healthiest way possible.

We treasure the trust you have placed in us as your orthodontic specialists. Thank you for being our valued patient and friend!

(Image by Flickr user Ben Tesch used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.)

Teeth and Braces-Friendly Halloween Treats

October 29th, 2019

HALLOWEEN IS A TON OF fun every year, and it’s right around the corner! We love the costumes, the decorations, and the local events, but we’re a little wary of all that candy. Sugar isn’t just tasty to us; the harmful bacteria in our mouths love it. If you want to make Halloween a little healthier for your teeth (and safer for your braces), here’s a handy breakdown of how different types of treats and candies rank in terms of promoting good dental health.

Types of Halloween Candy to Avoid

Anything hard, sticky, or sour is going to be bad for your teeth. Hard candy takes a while to dissolve, which means your teeth are exposed to sugar for a long time, and it can easily break a bracket loose. Even the nuts in soft candy bars pose a risk.

Sticky candy is a problem because it adheres to the teeth and braces, pushing the sugar right up against the enamel and gum tissue. That’s like breakfast in bed for bacteria! Sour candy might not pose the same dangers to your brackets, but it contains acid as well as sugar, so it’s doubly bad for teeth.

Candy That’s Good for Teeth?

Not all candy is awful for oral health or dangerous for braces-wearers. Chocolate is on the good end of the oral health spectrum, and the darker, the better. Chocolate contains flavanoids and polyphenols — compounds that limit oral bacteria, fight bad breath, and slow tooth decay. Dark chocolate has more of these compounds and their benefits are less offset by sugar than in sweeter milk chocolate.

Other candies that are safe to eat with braces and not terrible for your teeth include mint patties, peanut butter cups, and nut-free chocolate bars. These are soft and not too sticky, so you can safely bite into them without risking a bracket.

Fight Back Against the Effects of Sugar

Aside from avoiding the more harmful candies in favor of chocolate, there are other ways we can combat the effects sugar has on our teeth:

  • Don’t give harmful oral bacteria an all-day buffet! If you’re planning on eating a lot of candy, it’s better to eat it all in one sitting than spreading it out across an entire day. This way, your saliva will have a chance to neutralize the acids and wash away leftover sugar.
  • Drink water after enjoying some candy. It will help rinse out the sugar sticking to your teeth.
  • Wait half an hour after eating candy, then brush your teeth! Good brushing and flossing habits are essential to protecting your teeth from the effects of sugary candy.

Another Great Resource Is the Orthodontist!

Being careful about which candy you eat and when, rinsing with water, and maintaining good daily brushing and flossing habits are all great, but don’t forget about the best resource you have: the orthodontist! If you’d like to learn more about which treats are healthiest for your teeth and safest for your braces, all you have to do is ask!

Have a happy, healthy Halloween!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

What Causes Crooked Teeth?

September 24th, 2019

WHY DO ADULT TEETH come in crooked so often even though baby teeth always seem to be straight? It turns out that a number of different factors can contribute to bad bites and poor alignment in adult teeth, from age to genetics to the daily habits we don’t even think about.

The Soft Foods Theory And Dental Alignment

Experts are still debating the causes of crooked teeth, but archeologists have supplied one of the leading theories: the Soft Foods Theory. Essentially, the idea here is that our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate foods that were much tougher than what we eat now, which stimulated bone growth in their jaws, giving their teeth a solid foundation to come in straight.

This theory suggests that modern people have crooked teeth more often because our soft, processed food doesn’t encourage as much jaw bone growth and because we’re missing some of the vitamins and minerals that help bones and teeth grow. (Don’t feel too jealous of those strong jaws, though, because the trade off was that their teeth wore out much faster.)

Genetic Ties That Bind

Aside from the theorized effects of soft foods on dental alignment, our teeth are also affected by our genes. A child who inherits a small jaw from Mom and big teeth from Dad is going to have a problem with crowding, and children whose parents wore braces will likely also need them.

Daily Habits Versus Dental Alignment

It would be pretty hard to stick to a hunter-gatherer diet these days and we have no control over our own genes, but there is one factor we can control when it comes to how straight or crooked our teeth are, and that’s daily habits. Thumb sucking, mouth breathing, tongue thrusting, and even the simple action of resting your chin on your hand all contribute to shifting teeth.

Tongue thrusting, if you aren’t familiar, is the way babies swallow — pressing the tongue against the front teeth instead of the roof of the mouth. It’s perfectly normal for them, but we’re supposed to grow out of it. People who continue to tongue thrust after babyhood put a lot of pressure on their front teeth, causing them to shift. Special orthodontic appliances can help break the habit.

Mesial Drift: Dental Alignment Changing As We Age

Our teeth come into contact with each other countless times over decades of chewing and talking, and this can wear away at the sides of each tooth where it touches its neighbors. Teeth end up taking up less space from side to side, and then they scoot closer together, gradually pushing towards the front. This is mesial drift, which happens to most of us as we age, whether or not we’ve had braces in the past!

A Job For The Orthodontist

No matter what’s causing problems with bite or crowding, orthodontic treatment is the solution. If you’re worried about your dental alignment or that of a family member, contact us to set up a consultation so that we can take a look. Having straight teeth isn’t just about appearances; it’s about having healthier teeth that can do their job properly!

We love giving our patients the perfectly aligned smiles they deserve!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image by Flickr user aaron.bihari used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

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