There are plenty of factors that affect the way our teeth fit together. From the position of our jaw to the shape of our teeth, there are a number of areas where a bite can go bad. A “bad bite” refers to any issue with the way that teeth come together in a bite. And while some bite issues are harmless, others can cause discomfort, pain, or even damage your teeth and jaw.
Do You Have a Bad Bite?
If you think you might have a bad bite, there are a few red flags to look out for. For example, if you bite down hard and feel pain in a specific tooth, this could be because that tooth has a cavity or it could mean it’s taking the brunt of your biting and chewing force due to a bad bite. If biting down causes pain or discomfort in the jaw, even all the way up to the ear, you could be suffering from TMJ. And if you find that your teeth have noticeable wear, that could be a strong indicator of a bad bite.
When you visit the dentist for a regular checkup and cleaning, you may notice them asking you to bite while they check out your teeth. This is because your dentist is always keeping an eye on your bite, in case they spot a problem. If you suspect you have a bad bite, it’s important to set up an appointment with your 3dentist to get it checked out.
How to Fix a Bad Bite
Your dentist is equipped with a variety of ways to correct a bad bite depending on your specific circumstances and the severity of your bite issues. Neuromuscular dentistry is centered on the careful balance and cooperation of all the muscles and tissues that make up the mouth and jaw. By retraining these tissues to rest in a healthier position, a bad bite can be resolved.
Your dentist will probably start by giving you a TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) treatment, which is a sort of electrical massage that relaxes the muscles in your jaw. For some patients, periodic TENS treatments are enough to coax the muscles in the jaw into a less stressful position, correcting the bite. For others, a TENS treatment simply helps your dentist map your ideal bite, so that bite can be achieved by other means.
The next step is usually a bite splint. This orthotic appliance functions much like a mouth guard, holding the jaw in the position of least tension. Some bad bites can be resolved with overnight use of a bite splint, though at first most people will start out wearing the orthotic all day to help balance their bite.
But for those looking for a more long-term solution, a bite splint doesn’t have to be the final step. Reconstructive dentistry can permanently correct a bad bite by shaping and building the teeth to guide the jaw into the healthiest closed position.