Your bite refers to the alignment of your upper and lower teeth when they meet to cut through or chew food. When your bite is "off" your teeth may appear crooked or protruding. Usually, however, misaligned teeth look perfectly normal to you and everyone else - except your dentist!
A "bad bite" is also known as malocclusion, irregular bite, cross bite or overbite. Whatever it's called, a bad bite can cause a lot of pain and other problems - and not just in the mouth.
Bad bites cause problems because, when some of the teeth are too far forward or backward, or if some of the teeth are too tall or short, the jaw muscles will apply extra pressure to compensate for the poor alignment. Basically, your body will work overtime to enable you to chew. This puts great stress on the surface of the teeth - leading to cracks, chips and loosening - and on the jaw muscles themselves.
Eventually, the muscle strain extends to other areas of the face, such as the temporomandibular joint. This joint is located in front of the ear and marks the point where the upper and lower jaws meet. When the upper and lower teeth do not align properly, the muscles and the joints in the TMJ area are likewise misaligned, leading to temporomandibular joint disorder - otherwise known as TMJ.
Symptoms of bad bite, and TMJ disorder, may include:
- Unexplained loose teeth
- Pain in multiple teeth or the jaw joint
- Limited jaw movement
- Cracked, chipped or broken dental restorations
- Headache - especially when opening and closing your jaw
- Ear pain - in front of or below the ear, with no other signs of ear infection
- Noises "in your head" - grinding, crunching, or popping sounds
- A lack of balance or mild dizziness
- Congested or clogged ears
- Ringing in the ear
Do you have dental or facial pain? It may stem from a bad bite.
Many medical specialists may not be aware of the link between your bite and headaches. Most people with this condition are not aware of what a correct bite feels like because they have always had conflict between their teeth and jaw. We are trained to determine whether there is a link between headaches and the bite for individuals we see with headaches. We can treat these problems without medicine by helping the bite fit better with various modalities including bite analysis, equilibration, night guards and occlusal splint therapy.