Crooked teeth (also called malocclusion) can affect almost 75% of all American adults. Malocclusion can significantly affect oral health over the course of a lifetime, leaving you with increased chances of developing periodontal disease and increased wear and trauma to teeth.
-Crossbite – A crossbite is when the lower teeth overlap or come out even with the upper teeth. In a normal occlusion the upper teeth overlap the lower ones but when a crossbite (can occur on either side or both) is present, the opposite is true. This can lead to premature wear, increased risk of chipping or fracturing your teeth, development of abfraction (small notch in tooth at the gumline), and periodontal disease.
-Excessive Overjet – This occurs when the upper front teeth are too far out in front of the lower teeth. This can lead to increased trauma as well as an increase to chipping or fracturing of teeth (especially the front ones).
-Edge To Edge Bite – This occurs when the teeth touch one another edge to edge (or cusp to cusp). The teeth do not fit together propely allowing the biting surfaces to touch. This will lead to increased risk of chipping and fracturing, Temperomandibular Joint (TMJ) pain, as well as short, worn down teeth.
-Open Bite – This is a common occurence from thumb sucking or can be genetic. It is when there is a space between the front upper teeth and the front lower teeth upon closing. Not only is this an unesthetic option but it can lead to abfraction, is difficult to bite and tear food ,and causes excessive, premature wear of the back teeth.
-Over Bite- This is when the upper front teeth completely cover the lower front teeth. Often, the lower teeth hit into the backs of the upper teeth and sometimes into the roof of the mouth.
-Under Bite- This occurs when the lower jaw has grown more quickly than the upper jaw. The lower front teeth and jaw have grown in front of the upper teeth.
-Tooth Size Arch Length Discrepency- When your teeth are too large for your jaw space and cause extreme crowding or when your teeth are too small for your mouth. Crowding can lead to decay, fracture, and periodontal disease. Small teeth are generally a major cosmetic issue.
Gum disease is commonly found along with malocclusion, due to difficulty in maintaining good oral hygiene when teeth are not in proper position.
Periodontal disease has been linked to many systemic diseases through various studies. Some of these diseases include heart disease, diabetes, and alzheimer’s. Periodontal disease generally takes years of neglect to develop. There are various stages of periodontal disease progression, they include:
-Gingivitis – The earliest stage. The only stage that is reversible with proper dental care. This stage is characterized by swollen, red gum tissues, bleeding upon brushing, as well as bad breath (halitosis). If treated before it progresses, it can be reversed back to a normal, healthy, gingival state.
-Periodontitis – This is the stage that develops following ginigvitis. It is not reversible but can be controlled. Damage to teeth, bone, and gums can be limited with proper dental care. During this stage, the supporting tissues around the teeth may break down leading to gum recession and bone loss around the teeth.
-Advanced Periodontitis – This stage increases the bone loss and gum recession leading to loosening of teeth with the real possibility of losing one or more teeth.
When teeth are crowded and not aligned properly, the plaque and bacteria that forms on our teeth during everyday food consumption becomes much more difficult to remove. This makes it difficult to maintain a good state of health. Many times, flossing and brushing areas of overcrowded teeth will become very difficult. These areas are generally called a “plaque trap” for their ability to constantly trap food and debris. As mentioned earlier, without proper care, plaque traps can lead to bone loss, gum recession, and even tooth loss.
Another cause for concern is wear and trauma to the teeth. Poorly aligned teeth can create unnatural stresses on the teeth and the jaws. Teeth subjected to excessive pressures can develop chipping, fracturing, and abfractions. Premature wear can also lead to lost teeth, loose teeth and even root canal therapy.
Finally, crowded teeth affect your systemic health by allowing bacteria to grow and flourish unabated in these crowded areas. Over time, this can lead to devastating life threatening effects like heart disease and stroke.
Fortunately, in many cases the simple solution is increased visits to the dentist for professional cleanings as well as diligent home care. When there is undue stress placed on the teeth that can cause trauma and wear over time, Orthodontics is the answer in most cases. Orthodontics is a type of dentistry dealing with crowded or misaligned teeth. Proper orthodontic treatment can, in many cases, restore your smile and make it easier to maintain it.
Orthodontics is not just for cosmetic reasons. We are not all born with perfectly straight teeth and sometimes we need a little help to get there. The bottom line is to have beautiful teeth and gums that make you feel confident and healthy. Your smile should last you a lifetime!