Common Orthodontic Problems
Do I have an overbites, underbite, or crossbite?
If you've done any research into orthodontic treatment, chances are you've come across a list of terms you've never heard of before. Crossbites, overbites, tongue thrusts, oh my! Listed below are 12 of the most common orthodontic problems we find during our consultations in patients of all ages. These explanations will help you understand exactly what Dr. Bloom is looking for and give greater insight into precisely what's happening inside your mouth.
Dental crowding is present when the teeth do not fit into the available space. This often results in the teeth rotating or getting pushed forward or backward rather than lining up in an orderly way. Dental crowing is probably the most common complaint expressed during the initial consultation. Correcting dental crowding will create a beautiful smile and make it easier to brush and floss, especially if the teeth are initially overlapping. Crowding is often correcting through the use of braces or Invisalign. In the case of extreme crowding, the use of a palatal expander or dental extractions may be needed.
A narrow or undersized palate is a clinical condition that has become a popular topic of discussion and has been featured in many articles related to breathing and the airway. If the palate is undersized, we often find that there is insufficient room for the growing adult teeth, the patient may have difficulty breathing through their nose, there may be a posterior crossbite (discussed below), and/or the lower teeth may be tipped inward toward the tongue. An efficient and clinically proven solution to a narrow palate is a palatal expander. In more severe cases in adults patients, jaw surgery may be presented as one of the options for ideal treatment.
Ideally, the width of the upper jaw should be greater than the lower, so that when we bite down our top jaw fits over the lower like a lid on a jar. If the upper teeth are tucked under the lower teeth, we call that a crossbite. Dr. Bloom often finds that when a patient has a posterior crossbite (a crossbite of the back teeth) the patient will often slide their jaw to the left or right to find a comfortable chewing position. However, that can lead to lead to asymmetrical jaw growth or other issues which are very difficult to correct later on.
If a patient has an underbite, that can either mean the top jaw is too far back and needs more forward growth, the lower jaw is too far forward, or the new adult teeth have grown into an unfavorable position. The techniques for correcting an underbite in a growing child are often different than those used for an adult so Dr. Bloom will take time to discuss all options with you based on your individual needs.
An open bite means that when the patient bites down their front teeth do not come together. In children, this is often the result of thumb sucking or tongue thrusting. A tongue thrust means that when the patient swallows, they subconsciously push their tongue forward, between their teeth, instead of up to the roof of their mouth. If the tongue is sitting between the front teeth, it will hinder the eruption or growth of the front teeth and not allow them to fully grow down into their proper position. In adults, this can result from disproportionate jaw growth, problems with the temporomandibular joints (TMJ), or a variety of other reasons.
Another common problem we find is spacing between the teeth. Some patients not only find this esthetically unpleasing, but they often report that food gets trapped between their teeth causing pain or embarrassment. Invisalign is a very popular treatment option for patients with spacing issues.
Deep bites, often referred to as overbites, mean that when the patient bites the down the lower teeth are barely visible (or not visible at all). When a deep bite is present, the lower front teeth may also be touching the roof of the mouth and could cause some discomfort. Correcting these deep bites is often a key component of creating a healthy bite overall and will increase the likelihood of a stable result.
Due to a variety of genetic and environmental factors, more and more patients learn at their first consultation that they are congenitally missing one or more adult teeth. Other times, a tooth is lost prematurely due to cavities or other reasons. Whatever the cause, understanding how to deal with a missing tooth is an important part of any orthodontic treatment plan. In many cases, fake teeth (known as pontics) can be placed during treatment to give an esthetically pleasing look and hide those missing teeth.