Over and Under Bite Correction without Surgery
In a perfect world, your bite would be just one more perfect thing about you. Your teeth would be perfectly aligned, with your upper teeth fitting just slightly over your lower teeth. Too bad perfect isn’t reality! If your bite could use some adjustment, non-surgical bite correction can help.
In dental jargon, a bad bite is called a malocclusion and might not even be noticeable to you. So why bother seeking dental care? Well-aligned teeth are easier to keep clean, which means less risk of needing gum disease treatment later. Non-surgical bite correction also eliminates strain on your teeth, jaws and muscles, which lessens the risk of a broken tooth. It might also reduce the symptoms of temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ or TMD).
Chew on This
Most malocclusions are discovered by a dentist during a routine dental exam. The dentist will watch as you bite down to see if your teeth align properly. If not, the dentist may suggest panorex X-rays, molds of your teeth and possibly a visit to the orthodontist.
Although more severe cases of malocclusion may require some type of dental surgery (such as jaw surgery), several non-surgical bite correction techniques are more common:
Night Guards — Do you suffer from bruxism? If so, your dentist might recommend a night guard, a custom-made plastic dental appliance that fits over your top or bottom teeth. Night guards are usually worn while you sleep. The goal is to reduce the wear and tear grinding causes your teeth, helping to improve a bad bite.
Tooth Reshaping — When teeth are fairly well aligned but still not touching perfectly, tooth reshaping may be the non-surgical bite correction treatment of choice. Rough or irregular teeth may be adjusted down to evenly distribute the pressure of your bite across all of your teeth. The dentist begins by having you bite down on a piece of coated paper placed between your upper and lower teeth. As you move your teeth around while biting, the paper will leave colored marks at the points where your teeth touch. Your dentist then uses a dental drill to shape the teeth so that they only touch where they are supposed to touch.
Orthodontics — A malocclusion is most often treated by an orthodontist. Through the use of dental braces, orthodontic retainers and other dental appliances, teeth are slowly moved into the desired position. This process can take anywhere from 12 to 24 months. Problems with teeth alignment are easier and quicker to treat when corrected early. That’s why dental braces are more common in children and teens since their jaws are still developing and their teeth are easier to move. But that doesn’t mean orthodontics can’t help adults! It just means it might take a little longer.
Replacement and Reconstruction — This includes repairing any worn out or damaged existing dental work, such as a tooth filling. It also includes reconstructing teeth that are cracked, broken or have a large cavities through dental bonding or a dental crown. The goal is to create healthy teeth that are the size and shape they should be.
Maintaining the Picture of Perfection
One important thing to remember is that your teeth don’t stop moving as you age. Even if you undergo non-surgical bite correction now, it doesn’t mean you won’t need some minor adjustments later. But don’t worry too much — the amount your teeth move is very slight and it takes years to see a noticeable change. As long as you continue having regular dental visits and keep practicing good oral hygiene, your dentist can make sure your perfect bite stays that way.