Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Why should bad bites be treated?

From time-to-time, people that are skeptical about braces ask me that question. Sometimes it comes in the form of “why do braces if m teeth will get crooked again?” There’s a variety of ways to answer these queries.

As a result of a “bad bite” (which dentists and orthodontists refer to as a malocclusion) your teeth may be crooked, your bite may not work correctly and – unbeknownst to you – your jaws may not be functioning in the balanced manner they should. Over the course of time, the whole chewing system can show signs of breakdown in the form of facial muscular soreness, abnormal tooth wear, loosening of some teeth and sometimes grinding and even facial joint (TMJ) discomfort.

According to studies published by renowned orthodontic journals, untreated bad bites can result in a variety of future problems such as:
- Crowded, crooked teeth are more difficult to properly brush and floss, which may contribute to tooth decay and/or gum disease (gum disease is the #1 factor for dental loss in adults);
- Protruding teeth are more susceptible to accidental chipping;
- Crossbites (when one or some upper teeth fail to cover opposing lower teeth) can result in unfavorable growth, uneven tooth wear and loosening of permanent teeth;
- Openbites can result in tongue-thrusting habits and speech impediments;
- Upper and lower teeth that do not fit well when biting may lead to difficulties or reduced efficiency in chewing.
- In some circumstances, and in addition to stress, a bad bite can contribute to TMJ pain and dysfunction, facial soreness and headaches.

A bad bite is unstable by nature because the upper and lower teeth are not fitting well together. Therefore, it only makes sense that such unstable balance over the course of time will likely make a bad bite only get worse. Of course this degenerative process does not happen overnight. The discomfort it causes, however, may be felt more readily.

Once a bite is corrected to fit the standards considered ideal – or close to ideal – and the fit of the teeth is much like that of a lid tightly covering a box all around, it’s easy to visualize how such bite relationship is more stable than a bad bite.

It’s true the individual position of some teeth may change over time (and this will be addressed in a later posting about retainer wear), but the fit and benefits of a good bite will last and stay that way in the years to come.

Ultimately, orthodontics does more than make a beautiful smile – it creates a healthier you.