Have you ever been told that you look just like your mother, or that you have the family nose or chin? Like other physical characteristics, the way our teeth naturally align is due in part to genetics. For some, that means a movie star smile without the dental work. Most of us, however, have some slight teeth alignment quirk. There are many different types of specific teeth alignment issues such as:
- Improperly spaced teeth
- Crowded teeth
- Misaligned teeth
While a slightly crooked smile can add character, many of these alignment issues can cause serious problems if left untreated. This two-part post series will explore each issue in depth, starting with a type of bite that is most often encountered :
Many humans have a natural overbite, which describes how the top teeth hang over and rest in front of the row of lower teeth when the mouth is closed. However, excessive overbites can result in crooked teeth as the lower teeth begin to push the uppers out of the way. A form of deep bites, excessive overbites are common in children and should be corrected with treatment because this problem usually does does not resolve on its own. Your dentist or pediatric dentist monitors your child’s tooth eruption and bite changes at every dental checkup. If the overbite becomes problematic, your dentist may refer your child to the orthodontist for treatment. In addition to crooked teeth, an uncorrected overbite can cause wear to the lower teeth and difficulty chewing.
Underbites are significantly less common than overbites and are often genetic, depending on an individual’s jaw growth pattern such as discrepancies between the upper and lower jaw growth. Correcting underbites is dependent on growth and the age of the patient and if left untreated my require surgical correction later in life.
Open bites and cross-bites are additional tooth alignment issues that many orthodontists encounter. All four types of bites mentioned may be caused by:
- Hereditary predisposition
- Prolonged thumb-sucking
- Misaligned jaw bone or other abnormalities
Underbites, in particular, can lead to severe jaw pain and tooth enamel damage. Jaw pain, in turn, may cause additional issues such as chewing problems and even difficulty with speech.
Improperly Spaced Teeth
The majority of orthodontic problems are created by the fact that the baby teeth are smaller than the adult teeth that will replace them, so the adult teeth will erupt in the mouth and become crowded since they do not have enough room. In some instances, when the jaws are wider or the teeth are smaller size, the patients will resent with large spaces between their teeth. Some of these spaces can create bite issues and can be very visible and not very pleasing esthetically. Thankfully, these tooth spacing issues can be fixed with orthodontic treatments such as braces or Invisalign.
How We Can Help
Part two of this post will explore the other three causes of crooked teeth listed in the opening paragraph. If you find yourself relating to one of the topics already discussed here, it may be time to consider investing in braces or other treatment option. Dentists handle many general dental problems, but orthodontists specialize in the alignment of teeth. If you have crooked teeth, we may have a variety of treatment options that can give you a straighter, healthier smile. We welcome patients of any age, including children, teens, and adults. Call us at (512) 863-8580 to schedule a consultation. In the meantime, be on the lookout for part two of this topic!