Malocclusion: bad bite

A bad bite (malocclusion) is a condition in which a persons teeth are out of alignment crooked or crowded.

The way the teeth fit together when the jaw closes and chews is extremely important with regard to the long-term health of your teeth. The muscles that move the jaw are very powerful and can do major damage to the teeth when the biting surfaces don't fit together properly. If teeth interfere with functional muscle patterns the jaw muscles will attempt to remove the part of the tooth that interferes by grinding against. This situation can lead to severe tooth wear cracking of a tooth splitting the tooth or it may loosen the tooth and cause it to move out of alignment.

The excessive muscle activity as a result of malocclusion often results in pain in the jaw muscle itself. All of the jaws muscles can become sore especially the temporal muscles that are the source tension headaches.

Jaw muscles can exert over 900 pounds of compressive force. The damage such force can do when you close into a single tooth is extreme. The grinding action caused by a bad bite can cause the bone around the tooth root to break down leading to the tooth becoming loose.

Sometimes the muscle forces that work the tooth sideways can stimulate bone around the root to actually increase or build up and become stronger. When this happens the tooth bends in its socket and this creates deep groove in the tooth. This action is called an abfraction. These grooves can lead to increased tooth sensitivity as the opening in the tooth exposes nerves that can be delicately sensitive.

There are generally two types of malocclusion. These are:

Dental malocclusion: This is when the teeth are not lined up properly; even the jaw may be aligned. Tooth crowding causes this type of occlusion.

Skeletal malocclusion: A skeletal malocclusion occurs when the upper and lower jaws don't line up correctly. This type of malocclusion can be classed as an overbite (Upper jaw protrudes or lower jaw or both jaws recede(s)) or an underbite (Lower jaw protrudes)

Often malocclusion starts to appear between the ages of six and twelve when permanent teeth are erupting. A bad bite can be the result of many things including the following:

Bad Habits:
  • Thumbsucking
  • Tongue thrusting (pushing your tongue against your teeth)
  • Fingernail biting
  • Mouth breathing: Breathing primarily through your mouth instead of your nose.
Have specific questions?

All Article Categories

Before & After Photos

Suggested Doctors

Recently Asked Questions