The Importance of Proper Bite for Dental Health

Image of a doctor checking for proper bite alignmentMost people think of dental health in terms of whether they have healthy teeth and gums. They assume if they do not have cavities or gum disease, there is no cause for concern. However, the state of their dental bite is often overlooked. Your “bite” is the way your teeth fit together. If your upper and lower teeth do not meet properly, you could have dental problems.

What is a Proper Bite?

When your upper and lower teeth fit together correctly, the upper teeth fit over the lower teeth slightly. The points of your molars fit into the grooves of the opposite molars like puzzle pieces. This is a proper or healthy bite, sometimes called a normal bite. With a sound bite, your tongue and the insides of your cheeks are protected from your teeth.

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Malocclusion is the term for an improperly aligned bite. There are three main kinds of malocclusion, each causing problems that can damage your teeth, make it difficult to eat or speak, and lead to serious dental health problems.

  1. Class 1 malocclusion means the upper teeth overlap the lower one slightly.
  2. Class 2 is a  more extreme version of Class 1 and is often called an overbite.
  3. Class 3 malocclusion is when the lower jaw and teeth jut out, overlapping the upper jaw and teeth. This is often referred to as an underbite.

If malocclusions are not corrected, they put improper pressure on the jaw and teeth, leading to problems ranging from broken or cracked teeth to difficulties with the Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ).

Why It Is Important to Correct an Improperly Aligned Bite

Individuals with a proper bite do not tend to notice their bite at all. Even individuals with malocclusion may not notice symptoms until they are severe. However, if you or your dentist see even a minor change in your bite, it is essential to correct it as soon as possible. Otherwise, complications will crop up that can dramatically impact your oral health.

Over time, your jaw muscles will become strained if you do not have a proper bite. They move and stretch to accommodate the misalignment, leading to tension and spasms that trigger jaw pain and headaches. When the teeth do not meet properly, they wear unevenly. Some areas may wear faster, developing cavities or cracks due to too much pressure. Gum inflammation and gum disease may also develop due to teeth hitting improperly against the gums instead of properly meeting other teeth. In severe cases, your facial shape may be distorted, or you could develop a lisp. Breathing difficulties and snoring may also be the result of malocclusion.

Symptoms of an Improperly Aligned Bite

Genetics, lifestyle factors, accidents, or facial trauma can lead to a misaligned bite. For some individuals, the symptoms are minimal, and their dentist first discovers the problem during an examination or via dental x-rays. For others, malocclusion causes symptoms that should not be ignored, including:

  • Recurring headaches in the jaw area
  • Jaw pain or TMJ symptoms such as clicking, popping, or locking of the jaw
  • Difficulty chewing or pain when chewing
  • Jaw stiffness or difficulty pronouncing certain words
  • Teeth grinding
  • Uneven wear of the teeth
  • Frequently biting the tongue or insides of the cheeks

If you suspect your teeth or misaligned, contact Main Line Dental Group at Main Line Dental Group Phone Number 610-971-0717 to schedule an appointment with one of our dental professionals. We will carefully evaluate your teeth to determine whether you have a proper bite or need an oral appliance or other intervention to restore your bite and protect your oral health.