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One common misconception about orthodontics is that it’s just done for aesthetic purposes. Although most people tend to visit the orthodontist because they don’t like their smile, it’s certainly not the only reason you should be seeing an orthodontist. Possibly one of the most problematic issues associated with misaligned teeth is the misalignment of the jaw. When your jaw is out of place, this can set off a whole chain reaction of other issues that you may not even associate with your oral health. In this blog, we’re going to define “jaw misalignment” and tell you why it’s a serious problem that should be treated by your local orthodontist.

What is Jaw Alignment?

Jaw alignment refers to the position of the lower jaw (mandible) in relation to the upper jaw (maxilla). The jaw can become misaligned due to many reasons, such as crooked teeth, the spacing of the teeth, impacted teeth, overcrowding, or trauma to the jaw itself. Although everyone has a slightly different bite, it’s generally accepted that a “healthy” bite is one where the upper teeth slightly overlap the bottom teeth and there is an even amount of pressure spread across all teeth when biting. Let’s take a look at some of the different types of bites a patient may have.

Underbite When the lower jaw extends forward in front of the upper jaw.   

Overbite –  When the upper teeth extend too far over the lower teeth, sometimes even covering them up.

Openbite – When the front teeth of the upper and lower jaw do not touch when biting down.

Crossbite – When a patient develops an unusual or unhealthy bite due to an underbite or overbite.

Now that you know a little bit about the different types of alignment, you should know some of the problems associated with them. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact our orthodontists.

Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorders

The temporomandibular joint is the hinge-like joint that attaches your jaw on either side of the face. Although the jaw can rotate on this hinge just fine, TMJ disorders may result if the jaw is moved forward or backward for any reason. As you can imagine, there are a variety of underlying issues that may cause this. Misaligned teeth, trauma to the jaw, biting down the wrong way, or even sleeping the wrong way can all result in unnecessary strain on the jaw. The joints cartilage may also become damaged from arthritis or muscle conditions. TMJ disorders can have both short- and long-term side-effects such as jaw pain, difficulty chewing, locking of the jaw, or facial pain.

Tooth Pain and Tooth Loss

Another adverse side effect of a misaligned jaw is tooth pain. If your bite is causing you to put an unusual amount of pressure on a single tooth or set of teeth, or it causes you to grind your teeth together when you’re not eating, this can damage the enamel and lead to tooth decay. This can be painful and eventually lead to tooth loss if it’s not treated. Conversely, if the front teeth don’t touch at all, such is the case with an open bite, bone resorption may result. When this happens, the tooth root will begin to weaken and may erode completely if it’s not treated.

Headaches, Neck Pain, and Back Pain

Believe it or not, TMJ disorders and malocclusion are known to cause pain in other parts of the body, especially the head, neck, shoulders, and back. This usually results in the form of tension pain or tension headaches due to stress, poor posture, or inadequate sleep. Since TMJ disorders can develop slowly, you may get used to the pain or not notice it until it causes pain in other parts of the body.

Bad Habits

Above all, malocclusion of the jaw can cause you to develop bad habits. For example, if you have an overbite, you may realize it and try to adjust the way you chew. This may result in the malocclusion becoming worse, cause unnecessary wear on the teeth, or a whole range of other issues. If you think you may be developing a bad habit due to malocclusion, speak with your orthodontist immediately.

Contact Camilo Riano Orthodontics

Camilo Riano Orthodontics is your premier orthodontist in San Francisco for Invisalign, lingual braces, and clear ceramic braces. If you want to treat these issues associated with malocclusion but don’t want to deal with the downsides of traditional braces, don’t hesitate to schedule a consultation with us today. If you’ve had problems with TMJ disorders in the past, let us know and we’ll ensure it’s accounted for when your braces are applied. It’s our top priority to ensure that every patient who leaves our office, leaves with a healthy bite and smile. Give us a call today to get started.

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