You look in the mirror and notice that your smile looks a little different. Your teeth aren’t aligned the way they used to be.
You may be experiencing a shift in your bite, a condition which is known as malocclusion.
What causes malocclusion?
A shifted bite is usually the result of overcrowding, crooked teeth, or a misalignment that has occurred between the upper and lower arches.
How serious is malocclusion?
Malocclusion should be corrected as soon as possible since severe cases can cause issues such as difficulty chewing, changes to the face, speech problems, breathing issues, and bruxism (grinding or clenching of the jaw). One option that can help is veneers, which are cosmetic restorations that can improve the look of your smile as well.
Generally, malocclusion can interfere with brushing and flossing, so having your bite properly realigned will make it easier to maintain good dental health and prevent gingivitis, tooth decay, and other problems.
How can I find out if my bite has shifted?
A shift in bite can cause the following symptoms:
- Frequent biting down on your tongue or the inside of your cheek
- Changes to the appearance of your face
- Development of a lisp or other speech difficulties
- Pain or discomfort when chewing or biting down
You can also check the alignment of your bite by doing what’s called a clench test. Simply bite down and grind your teeth forwards and backwards and side to side. If you experience pain or discomfort while doing this, you should schedule a visit with your dentist to look at your bite.