In orthodontics, your “bite” refers to the way your upper and lower jaws and teeth fit together. A malocclusion (which means ‘bad bite’) happens when the teeth fit together unnaturally or not at all.
Common Types of Bite Problems
- Crossbite – A crossbite is when the mouth is closed, and some of the upper teeth fit inside the lower teeth instead of on the outside. This type of malocclusion can be caused by the misalignment of teeth or bone and can affect a single tooth or group of teeth. If not corrected, the jaw can shift to one side, causing lopsided jaw growth, and the enamel may begin to wear down.
- Underbite – An underbite occurs when the lower jaw sits in front of the upper jaw, causing a bulldog appearance of the face. If not corrected, an underbite can cause tooth wear and extra stress on the jaw joints.
- Open Bite – There are two types of open bites; anterior and posterior. An anterior open bite is when the back molars meet, but the front teeth do not. This is often due to thumb-sucking and pacifier use past the age of 5. A posterior open bite is just the opposite; the front teeth meet, but the molars don’t. If not corrected, an open bite can cause speech and swallowing problems.
- Deep Bite – This malocclusion is when the upper front teeth go too far over the bottom teeth, covering them completely. If not corrected, the upper teeth can bite into the lower gum tissue, and the lower teeth can push into the roof of the mouth. These problems can lead to gum disease and enamel damage.
- Spacing – Spacing is what it’s called when there’s too much space between the teeth. It can be a result of oversized jaws, missing or undersized teeth, or a combination of both. If left uncorrected, food can easily get trapped in the spaces, causing dental cavities or gum disease.
It’s very likely that if any of these bite problems exist in a child’s mouth, they will not typically correct on their own. Untreated malocclusions tend to get worse with time. These bite problems are best treated while a child’s mouth is still developing, so contact your orthodontist today.
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