In dentistry, the alignment or relation of the upper and lower teeth when a person bites down is called occlusion, or more commonly, “bite”. Malocclusion, or misalignment of the upper and lower dental arches results in a “bad bite” and when a bad bite negatively affects a person’s oral and overall health, a bite disorder is present.
An improperly functioning bite puts strain on a person’s jaw bones and facial muscles and causes problems with chewing, talking, and swallowing. A bad bite can contribute to a host of problems, including: receding gums; teeth grinding/clenching; broken teeth; tooth erosion; maxillofacial pain; and sleep apnea.
Bite disorders are caused by: deviations in tooth development; ill-fitting dental prostheses; an underdeveloped jaw; injury; or dysfunctions of the TMJ (temporomandibular jaw) joints. They can also develop as a result of habits such as thumb-sucking and tongue thrusting which put constant pressure on the teeth causing them to shift.
Types of bite disorders
Teeth in the lower dental arch tilt inward or outward more than the corresponding teeth in the upper dental arch.
The upper teeth overlap or protrude over the lower teeth.
The lower teeth overlap or protrude over the upper teeth.
The upper and lower teeth do not quite come together when the person bites down leaving a space between the dental arches.
Bite disorders are treated by dentists using a mixture of bite occlusion dentistry and TMJ therapy. Tooth reshaping, orthodontic treatment (e.g. braces), dental prostheses, and tooth extractions may be used to correct the patient’s bite, while bite splints/mouth guards are used to treat malocclusion-related teeth clenching and sleep apnea. Jaw surgery may also be required to fix bad bites and reduce maxillofacial pain.
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