In addition to overcrowding, there are several types of malocclusions (misaligned bites) in which upper and lower teeth do not fit together properly. These include crossbites, overbites, underbites, open bites, and excessive overjet. It can be tempting to want a quick fix for crowding or spacing only, however there are significant effects that an imbalanced bite can have on both dental and overall health.
5 risks of malocclusions (misaligned bites):
1) Accelerated tooth wear
Teeth that do not fit together properly have been shown to wear down more over time. This causes loss of tooth enamel (which does not grow back). Mismatched teeth can also be at a higher risk for chipping or fracturing.
Imbalanced bites can cause excessive force on teeth as well as the TMJ (temporomandibular joint). This can lead to gum recession, bone loss, tooth mobility, facial pain, muscle soreness, and headaches. Proper overjet and overbite help protect your teeth - an excessive overjet significantly increases a person's risk for traumatic injury to the upper front teeth.
3) Alteration in facial features
A person’s facial profile and lip support can be affected by certain malocclusions, and even change over time due to a mismatched bite. Depending on the type of bite, it can cause a retruded chin, circles under the eyes, protruded teeth, lower lip trap, or oversized lower jaw. Tooth wear from a bad bite or grinding habit can decrease tooth support for the lower jaw, which can lead to flattening or early aging of the facial profile.
4) Potential need for extensive, costly treatment in the future
Teeth that have lost significant structure or support may need repaired with restorative treatment such as crowns, or even replacement with implants or bridges. Certain misaligned bites may require teeth to be removed or even surgery if not addressed early.
Undergoing orthodontic treatment can be a big investment of your time and resources. No one wants their teeth to shift back or relapse after treatment. Excessive overjet can lead to a high risk of relapse after alignment, as well as deepening of the bite (extra overbite) over time. This increases your risks for overcrowding, tooth wear, painful sores or ulcers, and even an inability for your dentist to provide long-lasting restorations if needed.
Successful treatment of a malocclusion goes beyond achieving a proper bite and beautiful smile. Orthodontists are experts in tooth and bite alignment, facial growth and balance, and achieving long-term results.