Many people may not realize that their or their child’s bite is not ideal because they’ve grown into their teeth slowly overtime and have gotten used to their current bite. When an orthodontist is evaluating someone’s teeth, they’re looking not only for straightness, but correct alignment. A patient can have straight teeth, but a bite that will cause issues in the future with difficulty speaking, chewing, discomfort, and even jaw pain. Undergoing orthodontic treatment to completion means correcting not only the way the teeth fit together next to each other, but how the teeth interact when a patient speaks or eats.
There are many different facets to consider when an orthodontist is determining the health of your bite. Different angles can help the orthodontist determine if braces, aligners, another orthodontic appliance, or sometimes orthognathic surgery are required to create the ideal bite for that specific patient. Aids to capture the angles required include 2 xrays, panoramic which goes all the way around the patient’s head, and cephalometric which takes a picture from the side, as well as extraoral and intraoral pictures. An orthodontist will also perform an exam of the patient to see how their teeth are fitting together.
When an orthodontist is looking at the patient face directly, the upper edges of the upper front teeth should be parallel to the lower lip. Patients with long upper teeth will have a gummy smile with a lot of gum tissue visible. If the upper teeth are too short, the patient may look toothless. When the teeth come together in a natural bite, the amount that the upper teeth extend over the lower teeth can be used to diagnose different kinds of bites. A deep bite means the upper teeth cover too much of the lower teeth. An open bite means the upper teeth do not overlap the lower teeth at all so there is a gap. A crossbite means the arch that the upper teeth sit in is too wide or narrow so it crosses the lower arch in a different direction than it should. An underbite means the upper teeth sit behind the lower teeth.
When an orthodontist is looking at intraoral pictures, they’re looking to see if the teeth follow a curve shape without overlap or gaps. They also want to see if the pointed ends of the teeth fit between each other. Back teeth need to gently rest on top of each other when a patient’s bite is closed for proper chewing and speaking.
If any of these issues arise, a patient’s quality of life can be affected. If a child is brought to an orthodontist early enough, interceptive treatment can sometimes be used to help their bite to grow into the appropriate alignment making later orthodontic treatment quicker and easier as well as potentially avoiding the need for surgical intervention. If you are concerned about you or your child’s bite, make a consultation to see an orthodontist who can help determine the proper treatment plan for creating the ideal bite!