An uneven bite may not seem like much — unless you have one. People with uneven bites can have excessive tooth wear, jaw pain, and headaches because of their misaligned jaws. You may think nothing can be done about it, but that’s not true! At Freeman Orthodontics, we know that orthodontic treatment can properly realign your jaw and alleviate your pain in most cases. Repairing a misaligned jaw can save your teeth, alter your appearance, and eliminate jaw popping and stiffness.
How can Freeman Orthodontics help fix an uneven bite? You may be surprised! First, let’s find out what an uneven bite really is and what damage it can do.
What Are the Symptoms of a Misaligned Jaw?
A misaligned jaw is exactly as it sounds: The top jaw and lower jaw don’t line up properly. One of the most recognizable symptoms of jaw misalignment compared to a normal bite is the appearance of your teeth. If the middle lines between your upper and lower front teeth don’t line up, that’s a clear indication that your jaws aren’t aligned.
Other symptoms of a misaligned jaw include:
- Jaw stiffness: You may hear a popping sound when you chew, or your jaw gets stiff or fatigued easily during chewing.
- Teeth grinding: You may grind your teeth during the day or in your sleep.
- Tooth sensitivity: Your teeth may ache with hot or cold foods or drinks. This is because the enamel is worn down from the uneven bite.
- Pain in the head, neck, or shoulders: An uneven bite can cause pain in the jaw, spreading up to the head or down to the neck and shoulders.
What Causes Jaw Misalignment?
How do you end up with your jaw out of alignment? There are several possible causes, from genetics to accident trauma. Let’s take a look at the most common causes.
- Genetics: If your family, particularly your immediate family, is prone to malocclusions, chances are you will be as well. In other words, you may inherit your parents’ overbite, underbite, or crossbite. These can lead to jaw misalignment.
- Accidental trauma: Damage from an injury accident can cause a jaw to become misaligned. Sometimes orthodontics can fix this. Other times, surgery may be required, depending on the severity of the injury.
- Birth defects and disorders: Birth defects and diseases can cause an uneven jaw. Often, these types of misaligned jaws are repaired with surgery.
- Bad habits: Bad habits such as thumb sucking can cause the jaw to misalign over time.
Benefits of Correcting an Uneven Bite
Why is it so important to correct your uneven bite? Fixing your misaligned jaw has more benefits than you may think. The first benefit may be the most obvious — it can alleviate your jaw pain. Straightening your jaw lessens the tension on the muscles and joints of the jaw that shouldn’t be there in the first place. That tension can cause jaw pain, headaches, neck aches, and even shoulder pain. Fixing the problem will lessen or remove that pain.
Jaw repair can also improve your self-esteem. How is this possible? Fixing a misaligned jaw can change your facial structure, giving you a different appearance. We’ve seen patients whose self-esteem has improved because their upper jaws didn’t jut out so far, or their lower jaws were more aligned with the rest of their faces.
A misaligned jaw can lead to pain and inflammation in the temporomandibular joints, which connect the upper and lower jaws on either side of your head. Jaws that are out of alignment put added pressure on these joints. This can lead to pain and degradation of the joints.
The biggest benefit is to your teeth. An uneven bite can cause more damage than you realize. Your jaws are made to line up a certain way, so your teeth have only the amount of pressure they were designed to take. When your jaw is misaligned, it puts added pressure on certain teeth. This can cause faster or excessive tooth wear, cracking, or chipping. It can also cause your gums to loosen around your teeth, leading to tooth loss.
Treatments to Fix Uneven Bites
How do you repair an uneven bite? The two most common ways are through orthodontics and surgery. The best option for you depends on the nature and severity of the jaw misalignment.
Freeman Orthodontics often treats patients with braces or clear aligners. Braces and clear aligners use gentle pressure to move your teeth into their proper positions and reduce overbites, underbites, and crossbites. We also use tools such as rubber bands to coax the lower jaw into proper alignment with the upper jaw. We’ve repaired many malocclusions in our patients, and the results have been amazing. Patients report more self-confidence, less jaw pain, and less jaw fatigue and headaches after their treatment.
Surgery may be a better option for some, particularly those with genetic deformities of the jaw or with severe alignment issues. There are four main surgery options for jaw misalignment:
- Maxillary osteotomy: This surgery is performed on the upper jaw and corrects open bites and crossbites.
- Mandibular osteotomy: This surgery is performed on the lower jaw and is used to correct an overbite or a lower jaw that juts out too far in front of the upper jaw.
- Genioplasty: This is lower jaw surgery that essentially corrects problems with the chin.
- Jaw wiring: This surgery is performed on patients with fractured jaws, usually resulting from an accident or traumatic injury.
Traumatic injury patients usually will be referred to a dentist or orthodontist by the emergency doctor. Your dentist or orthodontist may recommend the other surgeries.
Get Answers About Your Uneven Bite
Without treatment, an uneven bite and its symptoms can get progressively worse. That’s why it’s important to find out your best treatment options as soon as possible. Contact Freeman Orthodontics to set up your free, no-obligation consultation if you’re in the San Jose, CA, area. We will give you a thorough examination and lay out all your options. You don’t have to live with the jaw pain and tooth damage a misaligned jaw causes. Freeman Orthodontics can help!