How Do I Know If My Bite is Misaligned
Do your teeth feel like they don’t exactly fit together? Perhaps you have difficulties speaking or even experience teeth grinding at night? You may be suffering from a misaligned bite. Often called by several different names, such as malocclusion, crossbite, overbite, underbite, and open bite, this condition often causes significant discomfort and pain.
Here are a few signs to watch out for if you suspect your bite might be misaligned.
An improperly fitting jaw might result in problems speaking, especially if the teeth obstruct the ability of your tongue to move normally. This can lead to problems enunciating words when speaking. Some can even develop a lisp which makes it difficult to enunciate properly and can cause self-esteem issues.
Difficulty Chewing or Biting
Those who experience a bad bite are often placing unneeded pressure on their teeth each time they move their teeth. This is true for those who face advanced problems such as crossbites, overbites, underbites, and open bites since the teeth don’t come together properly. As a result, chewing during a meal can cause pain or discomfort.
Misaligned teeth that are crowded or overlap make it more difficult to properly brush, floss and care for your teeth. The inability to clean all of the surfaces and crevices of your mouth and teeth can lead to cavities, gum disease and other dental health issues. If you are having a tough time brushing and flossing, a misaligned bite may be the cause.
Grinding / Clenching
An uneven bite can result in a tendency to grind or clench your teeth while you sleep. This comes as a result of your teeth being unable to fit together correctly. Your jaw muscles attempt to compensate for the lack of alignment and as a result grind against each other to fit together in a natural position.
Jaw Pain From Misaligned Teeth
An uneven bite can cause unneeded strain in the jaw muscles, which ultimately can lead to pain and discomfort. In some cases, this could even cause TMJ (Temporomandibular joint disorder) as a result of the jaw facing considerable pressure as a result of the misalignment. Some signs to look for include a clicking or pain when you open your mouth to speak, eat, or yawn.
TMJ and Misaligned Bites
The temporomandibular joint is crucial to giving your jaw full mobility for eating and speaking. A misaligned bite can exacerbate or lead to TMJ issues, causing pain and discomfort in the mouth and jaw. If you are suffering from stiffness, soreness or notice clicking noises with your jaw, it is likely that you are dealing with TMJ/TMD. A misaligned bite and TMJ can also lead to persistent headaches. When your jaw is not properly aligned it can become strained and tense, causing mild to severe headaches.
Give Yourself the Clench Test
An easy way to test if you have a misaligned bite is by biting down as naturally as you can. Squeeze your teeth hard and note the following:
- Do your teeth feel like they fit together?
- Is there no contact between some teeth?
- Are your bottom front teeth pushing excessively on your front top teeth?
- Do you feel pain?
- Is there sensitivity when you bite down?
The clench test helps rule out other possible sources of tooth pain. While cavities and cracked teeth hurt, they often occur in a portion of the tooth and only when chewing food or being exposed to extreme temperatures. Clenching your teeth won’t cause this kind of pain, instead pointing to potential jaw misalignment.
Ask Your Dentist If You Have Any Doubt
The easiest way to know if your bite could possibly be causing you any problems is to speak with your dentist. Some bites are misaligned in a subtle way, and many do not cause any problems at all. It is for this reason that you may have to bring it to your dentist’s attention instead of waiting for them to address it.
Your dentist will usually have their own way of testing for proper alignment of your teeth and whether or not this could cause you issues. These include X-rays or teeth impressions which allow your dentist an opportunity to decide the best treatment for you.
How Do You Fix Misaligned Teeth?
Treatment for misaligned teeth or crooked teeth can be simple and often includes the use of a traditional retainer, while some cases will require metal braces or clear aligners to correct the issue. There are some extreme cases where dental surgery may be necessary, however, this is much less common.
In cases of TMJ, it is best to consult an expert dentist. TMJ/ and TMD can be caused by a number of factors and if the symptoms last for long periods of time, it can mean that professional help is necessary.