Do you find yourself smiling with your lips closed or your hand over your mouth due to your crossbite? When your upper and lower teeth don't meet as they should, it may affect your self-esteem and cause health issues. Fortunately, dental, orthodontic and surgical treatments are available to straighten a misaligned bite and give you a beautiful smile.
What Is a Misaligned Bite?
A misaligned bite occurs when the upper teeth cover the outside of the lower teeth when they meet. The teeth could be misaligned at any place or throughout the mouth. As well as affecting the appearance of the teeth, lips and mouth, a poor bite can cause headaches, muscle pain, dental decay and gum disease. According to Cochrane, a crossbite in the teeth at the back of the mouth causes teeth grinding, abnormal facial development, jaw problems and wear on the teeth.
The best treatment for a misaligned bite depends on the age of the patient and the cause and type of misalignment. University of Florida Health lists four types of treatment for crossbite:
Braces and other orthodontic appliances
Removal of teeth
A team of dental professionals who wrote this article in Dental Learning explain that when patients are young and their teeth and jaws are still growing, orthodontists can control the growth of the jaws and teeth to correct a misaligned bite. For older patients, braces or dental restorations can be effective for mild misalignment, but if the crossbite is severe, the patient may need jaw surgery.
Braces move the upper and lower teeth and straighten them to align the bite in the correct position. Children and adults can both benefit from braces.
Orthodontists increase the size of the upper jaw by fitting palatal expanders. Fixed expanders are attached to the upper molars and are gradually widened using a special key, while removable expanders fit into the upper palate and are worn at night. Removable expanders are suitable for adults who only require a small amount of adjustment.
Headgear is worn on the head and face and attaches to the teeth with wires. The force on the teeth and jaw from the headgear increases or slows the growth of the jaws over time, making this a treatment most effective in children and teenagers.
When treating adults or children, the orthodontist may want to remove teeth to create room to move the lower teeth back before fitting braces.
Capping, bonding and reshaping teeth can improve a mild case of misaligned bite.
Surgical assistance may be the best treatment for adult patients, whose jaws have stopped growing. The surgeon breaks the upper jaw into sections, and after the surgery, the patient wears a device that molds the bone as it heals. The surgeon may also set back the lower jaw.
Oral Care During Treatment
Caring for your teeth while receiving treatment for a misaligned bite involves preventing the buildup of bacteria and plaque. Bacteria that cause tooth decay thrive in areas that are difficult to reach with a toothbrush, such as around braces. Avoid sugary, sticky foods and drinks, and rinse with mouthwash to remove food debris and destroy bacteria.
If you don't like the appearance of your smile or if your health is suffering due to a poor bite, talk to a dental professional. Self-consciousness over your misaligned bite can be a thing of the past with the range of treatments available.