Correcting A Misaligned Bite Can Add a Youthful Look to Your Years
Do you suffer from nagging neck pain, persistently stiff jaw, severe headaches and/or do you habitually grind your teeth? If so, you may have a misaligned bite or ‘malocclusion’. A malocclusion exists when the teeth and jaw joints do not properly fit together. It manifests as an under-bite, overbite or spacing between teeth and overcrowding problems. These types of malocclusions can cause a wide range of dental and secondary issues, and dramatically impact facial esthetics – which can take a real toll on a person’s self-esteem. Seeing your holistic dental practitioner for a bite assessment can lead to a better profile, healthier teeth, more restful nights and fewer headaches.
Malocclusion vs. Misalignment
When a person’s bite is misaligned, an uneven distribution of pressure is put on both the teeth and jaw, particularly while chewing. This misalignment can cause many issues including tooth pain due to loose fillings, broken crowns or chipped and crooked teeth, recessed gums, TMJ (clicking and popping of the jaw), difficulty opening or closing the mouth and ringing in the ears. It can also lead to muscle strain which can cause frequent headaches or sinus pain, and difficulty or discomfort when biting or chewing.
A malocclusion is also considered one of the most likely culprits in patients who complain of teeth grinding and jaw clenching. Chronic headaches are a well-recognized symptom of malocclusion that results from the uneven pressure placed on the teeth and jaw. The poor alignment of the teeth can be a result of genetic factors combined with poor oral habits, can result from an injury or stem from several childhood factors including inadequate nutrition. A bite analysis conducted by a dental professional can help to determine the level of correction needed and the type of treatment options a patient and dentist might consider.
Why You Should Seek Treatment of Malocclusion and TMJ
When looking at malocclusion, holistic dentistry focuses on the relationships of the teeth, facial muscles and jaw as a way to bring the whole body into healthy balance. Proper functioning of the temporomandibular joint or ‘TMJ’ is important for a well-aligned bite and healthy teeth. When injury to the jaw occurs, or if a malocclusion has been diagnosed, TMJ dysfunction may result, and create any number of problems that can impact a person’s overall health.
Benefits of treating malocclusion are many and include; a reduced risk of tooth decay as a malocclusion often causes an uneven wear pattern on the teeth which can lead to early tooth erosion and decay; improved oral hygiene by reducing overcrowding and making it easier to clean the teeth and gums effectively. There is also a reduction in the risk of TMJ or temporomandibular jaw syndrome which is often linked to a malocclusion. And, by realigning the teeth, pressure on the jaw is reduced, thereby eliminating many of the painful symptoms associated with malocclusion. Malocclusion correction can also improve facial aesthetics and lead to a greater sense of self-esteem.
How to Tell If You Have a Malocclusion
The best way to test for a malocclusion is by way of a bite analysis which is a relatively simple procedure that is done in a dental office. For this procedure, the patient bites down on the mouth piece of a handheld scanning device. This device measures the pressure and force of a person’s bite from all angles. It will reveal which teeth undergo more pressure, determine where upper and lower teeth do not meet, and if there is a misalignment of the teeth or jaw. A bite analysis is quick, simple and painless – and it can provide valuable information regarding oral health and reveal many complications associated with malocclusion.
The most ideal treatment for a malocclusion doesn’t involve painful braces, surgery or grinding on healthy teeth – and of course, the best treatment is non-surgical and non-invasive. For some patients, dental aligners such as Invisalign® is the preferred treatment. These braces are removable, invisible to the naked eye and work in much the same way as fixed dental braces, without distracting from the aesthetics of the smile.
A simple mouth guard may be the prescribed treatment in milder cases, and in some people, can make a significant difference at relieving symptoms of a misaligned bite.
Patients who have suffered from bite malocclusion for many years are often interested in the non-surgical treatment Face Lift Dentistry®. This exclusive treatment can reverse the appearance of years of aging while replacing old fillings, bridges and crowns with healthy biologically matching restorations that are made to idealize the bite and the shape of the patients face.
A preferred treatment for malocclusions is with the use of the functional osteopathic teeth straightening palate expansion device called Advanced Lightwire Functionals (ALF). This device addresses misalignment of teeth, facial bone reformation, TMJ pain, as well as troublesome sleep apnea. For many patients, the ALF orthodontic appliance helps to relieve chronic pain and remedy many of the common physical ailments associate with malocclusions. It offers far less discomfort than braces, is much less painful, and is easily removable for cleaning.