Misaligned teeth is one of the most common oral health problems out there. Although we see models on TV or in magazines with perfectly white and straight teeth, this is not the case for the majority of Americans. And those of us who have straight teeth most likely already had orthodontic treatment. After our adult teeth come in and as we age, our teeth aren’t finished moving. In fact, you could be in old age and still have moving teeth. However, they tend to settle into one spot unless another force acts upon them. For example, if you lose a tooth, your remaining teeth will move to accommodate for the lost space.
But how does all of this impact our jaw? Most people are well aware of Temporomandibular Joint Disorders that cause inflammation and pain in the jaw due to grinding of the teeth, arthritis or tightening of the facial and jaw muscles. But what causes misalignment of the jaw?
Teeth And Jaw — Working Hand-In-Hand
In an ideal bite, the top row of teeth (maxillary) lay just over the top of the lower teeth (mandibular). The teeth don’t need to be perfectly straight in order for this to happen, but they need to be relatively straight. When this happens, there is a relatively even amount of pressure spread across each tooth.
However, you’ve likely heard the terms “underbite” or “overbite” Overbite means the maxillary teeth come too far over the mandibular teeth while underbite means the mandibular goes too far over the maxillary. This is known as jaw misalignment, and much like tooth misalignment, it can cause problems if it isn’t fixed. These are some of the signs you may have a misaligned jaw.
- Stiffness in the jaw
- Trouble chewing
- Soreness when pressure is applied to the jaw
- Pain in the teeth
- Uncomfortable bite or lateral movement when biting
How To Treat It
If you’ve experienced these symptoms before, you’re probably squirming in your seat looking for a way to solve the issue. However, if you think you’re experiencing jaw misalignment and aren’t feeling any pain, there may not be an issue. The only way to find out is to visit an orthodontist who can diagnose the issue if it’s present.
The issue is that problems with the jaw can lead to problems with the teeth and vise versa. A poorly aligned jaw can lead to tooth wear or a high amount of stress on one or several teeth and misaligned teeth can cause issues with the muscles in the jaw or the jaw itself. However, if you’ve already scheduled an orthodontist appointment and you’re looking for ways to help in the meantime, give these tips a try:
- Stress management therapy can help to reduce tension in the jaw and bring it back to a normal position, reducing pain.
- Gently massaging the TMJ or jaw joint can help to reduce tension and sooth pain
- Avoid eating hard foods
- If you sleep with your head facing down or on your side, make sure your jaw is in a comfortable position and isn’t being pushed to one side or the other.
- Avoid chewing gum. This can put a lot of unnecessary stress on your jaw even if you don’t have a TMJ disorder.
Orthodontists specialize in the alignment of the teeth and the jaw. At Camilo Riano Orthodontics, it’s our highest priority to ensure that you have a comfortable and healthy bite. Visit us today and we’ll provide you with a full oral exam to understand what is causing the misalignment and what the best ways to treat it are.