Misaligned teeth may be obvious in some cases, but even teeth that look evenly placed and symmetrical can have bite issues. Conversely, not all teeth that look uneven are going to cause problems with your jaw function down the road. However, any teeth that appear crowded together have a greater potential for developing tooth decay and gum disease because they are harder to keep clean.
The only way to know for sure whether your crooked teeth need braces is to schedule a consultation with an experienced orthodontist, like Dr. David Markham. In our Sacramento, CA dental office, we will assess your tooth alignment and take x-rays to see what’s really going on with your occlusion and bite. We always provide a formal diagnosis and written treatment plan when we make orthodontic recommendations, so you understand your situation and can make an informed decision.
The Difference Between Bite and Alignment
Alignment refers to the position of the teeth in relation to each other. Bite refers to how well your top and bottom teeth fit together when you bite down and chew your food. Common bite dysfunctions include overbite, under bite, cross bite and open bite. If you suffer from any of these problems, it can lead to improper function of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) when you open and close your jaw. Most people think of TMJ disorder as being a popping or clicking sound in the jaw, but there is more to it than just that. The jaw joints are composed of multiple moving parts including ligaments, muscles, and the bones themselves. If your bite is not functioning properly, it can affect any of those moving parts and lead to chronic pain, headaches, damage to the teeth, bruxism, and even tooth loss.
The way your teeth fit together can also affect your breathing. Since the position of your jaw can affect your airway at night, orthodontic intervention and TMJ treatment may be able to treat or prevent patients from developing obstructive sleep apnea.
Sometimes a bite problem will be obvious if a patient has a severe overbite (buck teeth) or under bite (bulldog bite) but it’s not always easy to see. That’s why we recommend everyone have an orthodontic assessment at some point in their life.
For Crooked or Crowded Teeth
Patients who have a proper bite, but whose teeth appear crowded together should consider braces for their role in preserving oral health. When teeth are too close together or sit at odd angles, it can be hard to brush and floss them properly. Those tight spaces may be too small for toothbrush bristles to get in, but they aren’t too small for bacteria to enter. If you can’t clean the teeth properly, you are at much greater risk of developing cavities between the teeth and below the gum line. These hard-to-reach places are also hard for dentists to reach and restore with fillings, so prevention is the best approach.
For adults and older teens without bite issues, Invisalign® may be a preferable method of straightening the teeth. Invisalign is not ideal for patients with severe malocclusion or bite issues, but can improve your overall oral health and aesthetics without the limitations of conventional braces.
To find out whether your crooked teeth need braces, visit our Sacramento, CA dental office. At Markham Orthodontics, we treat patients of all ages. We will assess your smile and let you know whether your teeth would benefit from orthodontic treatment. Contact our office today at 916-924-8970 to make an appointment.