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What does a normal bite look like?

Posted in Adults, Alberta, Braces, British Columbia, General, Orthodontics, Teens

What determines whether a person has a normal bite or overbite? When and how can issues with bite be corrected? Our BC and Alberta orthodontists cover these topics today.

What is an ideal bite?

Many people walk into our office for the first time after having been referred for a bad bite. But, what exactly makes for a good bite - or a bad one? And why is having a normal bite important? Answers to your questions are ahead. 

When your orthodontist talks about your bite, we're discussing the way your upper and lower jaw fit together. Your upper teeth should slightly cover your lower teeth and the points of your molars should fit the grooves of the molars opposite them. You probably have a healthy bite if your jaw is aligned like this. 

People with normal teeth and a healthy bite find their teeth function well and are balanced (whereas a misaligned bite can cause pain and undue pressure on certain teeth can result in uneven wear on those teeth). 

A functional bite also supports facial symmetry, healthy breathing, chewing, swallowing, digestion and more. You likely have an ideal bite if yours is:

Well-Aligned

Are your teeth aligned with one another, and is your upper and lower jaw line symmetrical? You've probably got a healthy bite. All it takes is one tooth to be out of alignment to cause oral health issues for your whole mouth. We need a strong bite to chew properly, and chewing can be tough on our jaw and teeth. If your teeth are already misaligned, your jaw and teeth will take the force when you chew - not the food. This could leave you in pain. 

Pain-Free

Your bite shouldn't cause you any pain. If you notice pain in the muscles surrounding your jaw or in your jawbone, your bite may be misaligned. 

Working with Your Tongue

While you may not think of your tongue when considering your bite, it plays an important role in chewing and speaking. If your bite is misaligned, your teeth may be inadvertently nicking or cutting the sides of your tongue, which can increase your risk for sores that are more likely to become infected. 

What is a bad bite?

If you've got a bad bite, your orthodontist may use the word 'malocclusion' to describe it. This term means bad bite in Latin. A malocclusion, or bad bite, can be caused by:

  • Missing teeth, impacted teeth or excess teeth 
  • Difference in the size of your teeth
  • Difference in the size of your upper and lower jaw 
  • Birth defects such as a cleft palate 
  • Childhood habits such as tongue thrusting, extended use of a pacifier or thumb sucking. 
  • Misalignment of jaw after an injury

Normal Bite vs. Overbite & Other Issues

Did you know that there are four different types of bad bites? They are:

Overbite 

While your upper teeth should overlap your lower front teeth a certain amount, in some cases too much of an overbite can cause your front teeth to bite down on your gums, causing pain and other issues with your gum line.

Crossbite

A crossbite is the term for when your upper teeth sit inside of your lower front teeth. 

Underbite

An underbite occurs when the lower jaw covers your top teeth. 

Open Bite

When the mouth is never in a resting position because the front teeth do not overlap the bottom teeth at all and the back molars don't touch, an open bite is the problem. However, it is a treatable condition.

A bad bite can cause a range of issues, from headaches to issues with speaking, teeth grinding and pain in your temporomandibular joint, which plays an integral role in the movement of your jaw. Symptoms of temporomandibular joint disorder include stiffness, soreness or clicking noises when you open and close your mouth, and pain in your jaw. 

Is overbite normal?

You might be surprised to learn that a slight overbite is a completely normal occurrence (the average overbite is around 2-4mm). However, when your overbite is too large or small, you may start to notice issues. A distinct or deep overbite can lead to problems such as excesssive wear, pain and aesthetic issues with your smile, which can negatively impact your self-confidence. That said, orthodontics can help correct many issues, including an overbite. 

How can orthodontics correct my bite?

The best way to find out whether your bite needs correction is to consult an orthodontist, as they are the only specialists that can repair the alignment of your teeth, jaw, mouth and face. 

At myORTHODONTIST, we believe a healthy bite doesn't only support more functional teeth, it can contribute to greater general health and increased well-being. By assessing each individual patient's issues and taking an integrated approach to orthodontic treatment, our orthodontists focus on dento-facial balance, growth patterns, and airway issues as contributors to whole body health. 

We offer comprehensive services for all ages - from children to teens and adults - and aim to avoid extractions and invasive surgery when possible. 

Through orthodontic intervention, we can correct a misaligned bite - usually with braces to help realign the teeth and jaw and support healthy jaw joint and muscle function. We would look forward to scheduling your consultation and assessing your issue.

Wondering if you have a normal bite or whether you should consider orthodontic treatment? Contact our BC and Alberta orthodontists for a consultation and to have your questions addressed.

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