8 Signs You Should Have Your Bite Checked
For most of us, when we feel our bite, or occlusion, is off yet it’s not visibly obvious, we usually don’t give it much thought. However, even a slightly crooked bite can affect one’s overall health as well as create a variety of dental issues.
So, how do you know if you should seek a professional opinion?
Following are eight signs to look out for that indicate you should have your bite checked:
1. A Feeling Your Bite Is Off
How many times have you heard from friends, “my tooth just broke, and I was only eating a piece of bread”? In a healthy mouth, where the occlusion is correct, teeth shouldn’t break. When your bite is out of alignment, over time, even a ‘piece of bread’ can fracture a tooth.
When healthy, our teeth and their opposing teeth on the opposite arch, function together to eat, talk, whistle, etc. If the bite is off, they will not ‘hit’ each other as they are supposed to, and eventually one or more of the many teeth in your mouth can wear down from injury and break.
2. A Recent Dental Procedure
If you have recently repaired a broken tooth, cavity, or other dental issue, and you are feeling ‘off’, the new restoration may be slightly out of alignment. Know that this isn’t typically an issue caused by your dentist. Restorations can move, be too high or wide, and eventually interfere with your bite. Just speak with your dentist and ask for an adjustment.
If that does not fix the issue, see a prosthodontist (a specialist in occlusion) who can evaluate your tooth and its position through a different course of action. Keep in mind that a broken tooth or filling can be a sign of malocclusion. So, resist the temptation to just repair the fracture, and find out what caused the break in the first place.
3. Discomfort in the Jaw
When our bite is off, our muscles become strained. You may notice clicking sounds when you eat, chronic migraines, snoring, a sore jaw, and other uncomfortable issues. Our temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the part of our mouth that acts as a hinge, attaching our lower jawbone to our skull. When the muscles and joints are not working in tandem, as they were designed to do, functional impairment will occur, and pain is often the result.
The issue of a TMJ disorder (TMD) is often the effect of a misaligned bite. If your TMJ symptoms are relatively new, they may be the result of a physically traumatic event, such as a sports injury or a fall. Even a relatively minor event can create the need for a slight adjustment.
4. Gum Recession
Gum recession is when the tissue around your teeth recedes, exposing the roots of teeth, and a typical cause of recession is when your alignment is off. When the bite is misaligned, undue pressure and movement is put on the gums leading to recession.
For example, when your top and bottom teeth hit, the teeth move and become loose, causing open pockets where bacteria can form. The combination of loose teeth and bacteria that deteriorate gum tissue and bone, can potentially lead to tooth loss.
5. Chronic Headaches
Oftentimes, the result of a misaligned bite and additional stress on your jaw muscles can lead to chronic headaches. Evaluation of the muscles of the jaw can determine if this is a muscle issue. If so, adjusting malocclusion can relieve your headaches and be an excellent start to help you feel better.
6. Snoring and Sleep Apnea
The positioning of your jaw and teeth can leave your tongue less than the ideal amount of space to rest when sleeping, causing obstruction, tissues vibrations, and snoring. People are often surprised to learn that the jaw is actually one of the many culprits that can cause their snoring, poor sleep patterns, and even sleep apnea.
7. Small and Sensitive Teeth
If you have ever felt that your teeth are small or a bit sensitive when eating, drinking, or brushing your teeth, there’s a chance the enamel has worn down. A misaligned bite can cause an increase of pressure in the wrong areas, leading to uneven wear and tear, allowing your teeth to be more vulnerable to decay, chipping, and or even cracking. If you are often in need of fillings and/or crowns to restore damaged teeth, you may find relief in understanding why you needed treatment in the first place.
8. Grinding Teeth
There are many reasons for teeth grinding and clenching, such as stress, genetics, and even serious concentration, but it can also be the symptoms of an uneven bite. Grinding and clinching can occur at night, and even during the day, and cause permanent damage to your teeth.
How do I have my bite checked?
If you feel that one or more of these play a role in your daily life, the most effective solution may be identifying the underlying issue. Often, we have no idea that the source of our everyday pain is as easy to diagnose as a misaligned bite.
If you believe this may be relevant, reach out to a prosthodontist, a specialist in occlusion, in your area to perform a complete exam that would include utilizing specialized radiography in their office, like a CBCT, to assess your bite and jaw joints, and advise appropriate treatment options. Understanding your occlusion is the first step to healing.