A friend once shared that, after enduring years of back aches and pain, an orthopedist determined that the cause was one leg being shorter than the other. It wasn’t obvious to her but the slight disparity had led her on a long, frustrating journey of doctors’ visits, medications, diagnostic tests, and out-and-out guesswork.
The body is a miraculous structure. Yet, it relies on a delicate balance in order to operate as intended. Just as the balanced length of our legs affects the smooth flow of our posture, gait, and stance, so does the balance of how your teeth fit together. A slight disparity here, too, can cause problems that radiate far beyond the mouth.
When the upper teeth do not properly align with the lower teeth, it’s not always obvious – initially. Problems tend to occur at a gradual pace. For example, teeth that slowly become crowded and crooked may eventually fail to meet harmoniously while chewing. This can lead to a number of problems, including chipped, worn, broken, or fractured teeth. And, the condition can contribute to seemingly unrelated problems.
Misaligned teeth can cause the TMJ, or jaw joints, to be strained. These joints, located in front of each ear, are what hinges the lower jaw to the skull. When these joints move together fluidly, they function without stress or strain when speaking, laughing, and eating.
However, when the bite is not properly aligned, it can lead to issues that disrupt the balance that is needed for ease of function. These problems are known as TMJ disorder, which can lead to:
• Clenching and/or grinding teeth during sleep
• Aching jaw joints
• Ear ringing
• Jaw popping
• Sore facial, shoulder or neck muscles
• Difficulty opening the mouth fully
Misaligned teeth also create a higher risk for cavities and gum disease along with breaks that can result in tooth removal. For example, when upper teeth and lower teeth do not meet properly, one may ‘hit’ a neighboring tooth awkwardly, typically while eating. When a tooth breaks below the gum line, a crown can no longer save the tooth and it must be removed. A lost tooth leads to many decisions and costs for replacement.
In cases of mild bite misalignment, treatment requirements may be as simple as the reshaping of selected teeth. Some cases may involve the crowning of certain teeth in order to restore proper balance. Other cases may require orthodontic treatment to fully resolve the problems related to bite alignment.
Misaligned teeth will not improve without correction. At the very least, improperly aligned teeth will increase your potential for developing cavities or gum disease. Over time, however, many of these cases lead to problems that cause the problems mentioned prior, includign migraines, dizziness, or worn or broken teeth.
If you have crowded, crooked teeth or are experiencing problems associated with TMJ disorder, restoring proper bite alignment can give you a healthier foundation for your teeth and gums, help you avoid TMJ-related problems, and may even enhance the appearance of your smile.
Begin by calling 843-871-6351 to schedule a no-charge consultation. I’ll explain ways we will evaluate your bite and determine if your bite alignment is the true source of your symptoms. If so, we can develop a treatment plan to help you overcome the problems in the most conservative way possible.