In dentistry, occlusion refers to the alignment your upper and lower teeth. Most people have some degree of misalignment but may not need any intervention. This misalignment, whether problematic or not, is called malocclusion and is categorized into different classes.
Occlusion is known as normal bite and is referred to as a class 1 bite. Malocclusions like overbites are class 2 malocclusion while underbites are class 3 malocclusion. These can be hard on your appearance, as well as your dental and overall health. In fact, many people with pronounced malocclusion suffer from low self esteem due simply to the effects on their outward appearance. Of course, if that were the only thing to worry about, it would be easy enough to manage.
But when you consider other health implications, it can be quite a handful. If you suffer from either of these malocclusions and haven’t given it much thought, this article is meant to help open your eyes to the possible negative effects of these conditions. The good news is that there are procedures and therapies to help.
Overbites and Their Health Implications
When the upper teeth protrude over the lower jaw, this is referred to as overbite. Most people have a mild form of overbite — not typically a cause for concern as it tends not to be very noticeable. You’d usually have to look hard to notice them.
Overbites can cause significant damage to the gums, wear out the teeth, cause pain and injuries, and expose the teeth to infection. Teeth cleaning may also be more difficult, thus predisposing the teeth to further issues. If you or your child has this, you should visit your dentist to see what can be done. There are solutions for re-aligning your teeth and bite, many of which may not even require any surgical intervention.
Underbites and Their Health Implications
Underbites occur when the lower jaw juts out and protrudes farther than the upper jaw. Underbites are also capable of altering your appearance and can carry a similar stigma to other issues affecting your smile.
This combined with the pain, wearing of the teeth, difficulty in chewing food and the stress involved in keeping your jaws closed makes it a condition that should be addressed. Again, advances in dental technique and technology have provided more and more comfortable solutions to these kinds of issues.
What to Do if You Suffer from Malocclusion
Luckily, these conditions can be corrected by your dentist. For kids, it’s better to start as soon as possible — preferably before their permanent teeth grow in. Having these corrected can drastically improve your quality of life, eliminate any speech difficulties, reduce the risk of tooth loss and associated teeth problems, and improve your smile and self-confidence. There are two approaches to treating these conditions: non-orthodontic and orthodontic.
Your dentist will let you know which option best suits your present condition. If you’ve already been putting it off, get an appointment with Premier Smile Center or your local dentist as soon as you can. If your dentist isn’t an orthodontist, they will refer you to one if necessary. There are even corrective treatment options including Invisalign (short for invisible alignment), retainers and functional appliances that you can wear when you’re going to bed.
People who have overbites and underbites might also want to get checked out for the possibility of having temporomandibular disorder. Not everyone develops it, but it’s good practice to make sure that you haven’t.
Oscar King is a freelance writer and family man who offers advice and insights into issues of everyday life, and in particular the challenges faced by parents and families.