During checkups with your dentist in Rocky Mount, you may be asked to bite down as your dentist takes a closer look at your teeth. What exactly is the purpose of this examination? They’re looking at your bite or the way your top teeth meet your bottom teeth when you’re biting down, to see how your teeth fit together. In some cases, you may be told you have a bad bite. But there are also things to look out for on your own that help you determine if you have a good bite or a bad bite.
A bad bite, also referred to as malocclusion, simply means that the upper top and lower teeth don’t fit together properly, or sometimes don’t meet together at all. A bad bite can affect many things, from the way you chew, breathe, and speak to an increased risk of developing dental problems. While we can thank genetics as the cause of most bad bites, they can also result from other things and can affect both kids and adults. Here are some signs of a bad bite from your dentist in Rocky Mount.
If your top teeth hang out over the bottom teeth when you’re fully biting down, they may take on the appearance of “buck teeth.” This is a tell-tale sign of an overbite. An overbite in kids can be caused by thumbsucking and pacifier, while developing an overbite later in life may be contributed to nail-biting, tooth grinding, or constantly pushing the tongue against the top teeth. “Buck teeth” are more prone to being damaged and broken and can make it hard for you to close your mouth completely. People with an overbite could suffer from dry mouth, an increased risk for cavities, and bad breath.
It’s also possible for the opposite to occur, and the lower teeth can overlap the upper teeth. This is appropriately called an underbite. Underbites can put too much pressure on the jaw and cause pain and can also make teeth more susceptible to wear down. Those with an underbite tend to have an appearance where the jaw looks pushed forward all the time. Causes of an underbite are similar to those of an overbite and include thumbsucking and the use of pacifiers. New underbites that appear in adulthood are most commonly the result of a dental injury.
While it’s incredibly common for teeth to be crooked or slightly overlap, when a top tooth, or even several top teeth, criss-cross into the inside of lower teeth when the mouth is closed could be a sign of a crossbite. Crossbites are one of the more complicated types of malocclusion and can happen to either the front teeth or the back teeth. They’re caused by some sort of anatomical misalignment in the teeth or bone structure and can cause more stress to fall on one location rather than spread evenly, causing jaw pain and increasing the risk of enamel erosion and, therefore, decay.
When you bite down on your back teeth, do your front teeth touch? How about the back molars? If the front teeth or your molars on top don’t touch those on the bottom, you may have what’s called an open bite. Again, open bites in kids may be caused by using a pacifier or thumb sucking, another reason why the American Academy of Pediatric Dentists recommends stopping these around age 3. Other causes of an open bite may include habitually pushing the tongue against the front teeth or breathing out of the mouth. An overbite could cause speech problems as well as difficulty swallowing.
If you suspect that you or a family member has a bad bite, contact your dentist in Rocky Mount. Bad bites usually need some sort of treatment in order to fix them, so be open with your dental team about your concerns. After all, a healthier bite can mean fewer dental problems down the road.