I met with a dental patient recently and he was concerned about his “bad bite.” When someone says they have a “bad bite” what does that mean and what problems can occur from a “bad bite”?
Your bite, also known as your occlusion, is how your teeth fit together. Here are some extreme examples of “bad bites”: I’ve seen dental patients who can only touch their front teeth together, yet none of their back teeth touch. There is also the opposite where only the back teeth touch but none of the front teeth touch. I’ve worked with many dental patients who because of their bite, have worn their teeth down to almost nothing. Now, these are some extreme examples. Most issues that arise from a patient’s bite are much more subtle and usually, the patient is only slightly aware and sometimes completely unaware.
Here are the top 5 dental signs of a “bad bite”:
- Your front teeth are slowly wearing down or the edges of the front teeth are rough or jagged: The easiest teeth for a dental patient to see are the front teeth and issues with the bite usually show up on the front teeth. If you look at pictures from when you were younger and think to yourself that your teeth look shorter now than in the past, you may have a bite issue. Teeth do not dramatically wear down just because of age. Don’t assume that because you are older that you should necessarily have short, worn teeth. Also, if the edges of your front teeth are rough, you keep chipping small pieces off your front teeth, or fillings keep “popping” off your front teeth, this is a sign of stress on the front teeth commonly associated with a bad bite.
- You have jaw pain or TMD/“TMJ": Chronic headaches, jaw pain, earaches, sore and/or tired jaw muscles, and jaw joint pain are all common signs of a bad bite. The jaw joint, jaw muscles, and teeth all want to be in harmony. If a dental patient’s bite is not in harmony with the joint and muscles it can cause all sorts of pain that can radiate and spread to different areas of the head and neck. It is common to see patients who have visited their primary care physician, chiropractor, masseuse, and ENT, only to find out their problems are caused by a bad bite.
- Your gums are dropping or receding: There can be all sorts of different problems with the gums, but let’s say that you are taking incredible care of your teeth at home and you and your dentist can’t find a reason as to why your gums are dropping and you’re losing bone around your teeth. This could easily be a bite issue. In short, the stress on the teeth from the bad bite is transferred to the bone and the bone can’t adapt to the stress. What you’ll see over time is that the bone slowly melts away and the gums drop with it.
- You have notching or ledges developing on the sides of the teeth: Once again, this can be a sign of stress from a bad bite. This can happen to just one tooth or multiple teeth. Stress from a bad bite is transmitted to the tooth and it slowly breaks down the root of the tooth leaving a notched-out area on the root of the tooth down by the gum line. It almost looks like the notch you see if you’re cutting down a tree with an ax.
- You have cracked or fractured teeth: Teeth are designed to take a certain amount of force or stress, but if your bite is not correct this can lead to a buildup of stress causing your teeth to crack or fracture over time. If teeth are breaking, there is a reason and you should seek help in figuring out the cause.
Most patients at 58 Dental look to us to prevent problems and catch issues early before something major happens. We help our dental patients by identifying problems in the early stages where corrective changes are easier and less costly. Why wait for a major issue to occur when simple steps can save you a ton of time and money in the long run? Call 58 Dental today if you like to be proactive and catch things early.