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Common Bite Problems in Children & Adults

Posted in Adults, Alberta, British Columbia, Children, General, Orthodontics, Phase 1 Treatment, Phase 2 Treatment, Related Conditions, Teens, Tips & Advice

While it's not often discussed, our bite plays an important role in our orthodontic health. Though each person's bite problem is based on a number of individual factors, there are seven broad types of bite problems that our BC and Alberta orthodontists see in children and adults. We'll discuss them today. 

Types of Dental Bite Problems

Our teeth play a pivotal role in our facial structure, confidence in our smile, ability to eat, speak and chew and our overall oral health. But bite problems can affect both the function and aesthetics of our teeth. Whether bite problems occur in children or adults, they may cause pain and discomfort now and impact our oral health long-term. 

Here are seven common bite problems we often see in both children and adults, and potential complications they may cause if not corrected.

1. Open Bite

If the front upper and lower teeth slant outward and do not touch when the mouth closes, this is an open bite. Caused by strain building up in the alignment of the front teeth due to thumb sucking, overuse of pacifier or feeding bottle, TMJ disorders or skeletal conditions, an open bite has two sub-types:

Anterior open bite: Happens when the back teeth are together and the upper and lower front teeth do not overlap. This can result in mouth breathing, tongue thrusting or excessive sucking. 

Posterior open bite: Occurs when the front teeth meet, but the back teeth do not. 

Potential consequences if not corrected: Possible speech problems, swallowing issues (tongue pushes through teeth when swallowing). 

2. Crossbite

One of the most common bad bite problems (malocclusion) occurs if your teeth grow closer to the cheeks or tongue. This is often caused by a delayed tooth eruption, a tooth that has erupted improperly or misalignment of teeth (including baby teeth). Crossbite can impact a single tooth or groups of teeth. 

Potential consequences if not corrected: Lopsided jaw growth; jaw shifting to one side; wearing down of tooth enamel (outer layer of the tooth). 

3. Deep Bite

Also referred to as an overbite or closed bite, a deep bite occurs when the upper front teeth overlap the bottom front teeth strangely when the mouth is closed. Contributing factors to this bite problem including thumb sucking or excessive nail biting in children, and grinding or clenching of teeth in adults. 

Potential consequences if not corrected: Upper teeth may bite into lower gums while lower teeth can bite into the roof of the mouth. This may lead to early wear on enamel and possible gum disease. 

4. Underbite

When the lower teeth extend outward further than the upper teeth, a patient would be diagnosed with an underbite. This condition may feel very uncomfortable as it could lead to the chin being extended. Common causes of underbite include thumb sucking in children, overuse of a baby feeding bottle and heredity. 

Potential consequences if not corrected: Abnormal stress on jaw joints; wear on teeth; "bulldog" appearance to face. 

5. Spacing

Spacing or gapped teeth issues can cover a variety of problems, but the issue amounts to too much space between teeth. Missing teeth, undersized teeth, oversized jaws or a combination of these conditions can also be contributing factors. 

Potential consequences if not corrected: Food particles become stuck in open areas, which may lead to possible gum disease, cavities and more serious dental issues. 

6. Crowding

On the other end of the spectrum from spacing is crowding. This aptly named condition is the type of misalignment wherein the teeth don't have enough room to erupt, which can result in crooked or rotated teeth. Fortunately, crowding can be corrected through palatal expansion, tooth extraction or braces. 

Potential consequences if not corrected: Because crooked or rotated teeth can be difficult to clean, this may cause tooth cavities.

7. Protrusion 

This common bite problem in children and adults is also referred to as "buck teeth". Teeth may appear protrusive due to the upper jaw being situated too far forward or the lower jaw too far back. The teeth may also have erupted at an angle. Poor oral habits such as thumb sucking and tongue thrusting, along with severe crowding and genetics can contribute to protrusion. 

Potential consequences if not corrected: Upper teeth are susceptible to accidental fracture and an individual may find it challenging to comfortably close the lips and mouth. This can lead to oral tissues becoming dried out and tooth decay occurring. You may also notice speech problems and a patient may have a long, narrow face. 

Orthodontic Treatment at myORTHODONTIST

Many children, teens and adults have treatable orthodontic conditions such as open bite, crossbite, teeth crowding and others. While these are bite problems, they can affect an individual's oral and overall health and well-being as they develop. Age also comes into play when talking about oral health, so the sooner these conditions can be addressed, the better.  

Our orthodontists in BC and Alberta can help find solutions to alleviate symptoms and potentially prevent complications that may occur later in life as a result of these conditions. 

Depending on the age of the patient, their specific issue and numerous individual factors, we may take a 2-phase approach to orthodontics by recommending early preventative treatment for children, which may mean a shorter treatment phase in their teenage years. 

For first-time teenage patients, we work to establish a rapport with them and bring them into the conversation. Treatment options may include braces, Invisalign Teen or addressing concerns with airway issues and sleep apnea. Adults may also choose to undergo orthodontic treatment to help protect their oral health and for aesthetic reasons, and will have their on set of concerns. 

Regardless of a patient's age, we maintain a client-first approach and can develop a customized orthodontic treatment plan for each patient.

Do you think you or your child may have a bite problem or other orthodontic issue? Contact our BC and Alberta orthodontists for a consultation. We can examine your teeth and recommend treatment options to help.

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