Do you suffer from jaw pain? Does the jaw pain lead to headaches? Are you self-conscious about the way your teeth over- or underlap?
When your teeth do not line up as they should, your jaw may not move normally. This can result in swelling and pain in your teeth and jaw. You may be interested in talking to your dentist to ask about treatment options.
Types of Bite Misalignment
Bite misalignment or malocclusion means that the teeth are not properly lined up.
Class 1 malocclusion is the most common type. This individual has a normal bite, but the front teeth overlap the lower teeth by a small amount.
Class 2 malocclusion, often called an overbite, occurs with a significant overlap of the upper jaw and teeth over the lower teeth.
Class 3 malocclusion, is also called an underbite. This happens when the lower jaw and teeth protrude or push forward such that the lower teeth overlap the upper teeth.
What Causes Bite Misalignment?
Many different issues can contribute to misalignment of your bite:
- Childhood behaviors include prolonged use of a bottle or pacifier and thumb sucking
- Tongue thrusting pushes the front teeth forward
- Injuries, including jaw fractures, that are not properly realigned
- Mouth and jaw tumors
- Dentures or other dental appliances that do not fit correctly
- Early loss of baby or adult teeth or extra teeth
Some of the factors that play a part in bite misalignment are within your control. It is important to recognize problems early and seek treatment
How Do You Know if Your Bite is Misaligned and Needs Treatment?
What signs should you look for that may signal bite misalignment?
Changes in your mouth. Watch for overcrowded, crooked, or twisted teeth. This can prevent your teeth from closing together the normal way
Changes in your smile. When your teeth do not line up as they should, your smile can look different.
Headaches. Frequent headaches for which you can’t determine the cause, may result from a misaligned bite.
Jaw soreness. If you grind your teeth or clench your jaw, this can cause jaw pain and soreness. People often find that this happens during sleep or stressful situations.
Increased tooth sensitivity. If the teeth are rubbing together, this can cause wear on the surface and make them more sensitive.
If you notice any of these signs, it is time to talk with your dentist to determine if you need to see an orthodontist.
Damage that Can Result from Poorly Aligned Teeth
Many people complain of aching jaws and headaches, but do not know why they have them. Temporomandibular joints (TMJ) problems may be the answer.
The TMJ is the hinge joint that connects the lower jaw to the skull. Pain in this joint can result from many factors:
- Jaw injury
- Genetic factors
- Clenching or grinding teeth (called bruxism)
- Misalignment of the bite
When the bite is out of alignments, you may also experience other problem:
- Excessive mouth breathing
- Difficulty and pain when chewing
- Trouble forming words
- Frequent injury to your cheeks or lips from accidental biting
- Changes in the shape of your face
- Migraine headaches
- Problem keeping dental retainers or appliances in place
What is the Difference in a Dentist and an Orthodontist?
Dentists and orthodontists both help people with their teeth. They accomplish this task in different ways.
Dentists practice a broad area of medicine focusing on the teeth, gums, jaw, and nerves. Orthodontists work on fixing bites and aligning teeth so that the mouth regains normal function.
Proper alignment of the bite and teeth, as well as general oral health, greatly impacts people’s day to day life. Poor oral health can lead to severe infections, heart disease, and even death. Dental health is not just about pretty teeth.
An orthodontist becomes a dentist first and then specializes in orthodontics. Thus, all orthodontists are dentists, but all dentists are not orthodontists.
How is Jaw Misalignment Treated?
Braces are usually the first line of treatment for bite problems. While we often only think of braces for teenagers, many adults can also benefit from orthodontic care.
Other options available include invisible aligners. These are invisible plastic trays that are fit to your teeth. You wear them 20 to 22 hours every day. These trays are changed every few weeks to adjust your teeth and move them into proper alignment.
In severe cases, surgery may be required to correct the misalignment. This procedure involves moving the upper or lower jaw to achieve proper alignment. Surgery is usually done as part of orthodontic treatment with braces.
How Long Does It Take to Correct the Problem?
If you decide to get braces, how long can you expect to have to wear them?
Braces are usually worn for 18 months to 2 years. Your time frame may be longer or shorter. The severity of your condition impacts the length of treatment.
You will receive specific instructions for oral hygiene. By strictly following these instructions, may allow you to reduce the time that you wear braces.
The type of braces you choose can greatly affect your length of treatment.
- Ceramic braces are sturdy, but they require longer wear because they do not have the strength of metal braces.
- Some people choose to wear lingual braces. In this case, the brackets are put on the back of the teeth. This approach takes longer to achieve the desired effect.
- Metal braces are more durable and may decrease your treatment time.
- Invisible aligners usually take about 20 weeks for complete alignment.
How do I Pay for Orthodontist Appointments?
Can I afford orthodontic care?
The cost of orthodontic correction varies depending on the severity of the problem. Length of treatment, location of your orthodontist, and need for other restorative work also impacts the total cost.
Traditional braces cost approximately $3,000 to $7,000. Treatment using Invisalign® or ClearCorrect® may range from $3,500 to $6,000.
If you have dental insurance, talk with your representative to determine the type of coverage you have. Ask if there an annual or lifetime cap on how much they will pay for orthodontic work.
If you don’t have dental insurance, you may have the option of a flexible payment plan or loan through your orthodontist’s office. Third-party financing is available from banks or other lending institutions.
Are You Ready to Explore Treatment with an Orthodontist?
Don’t let bite misalignment go untreated. This can lead to increase pain and further problems. Talk to your dentist about starting treatment.
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