Most people think that braces are purely an aesthetic aspect of dentistry and only fix problems with the appearance of teeth. This could not be farther from the truth. Properly aligned teeth, aside form being more attractive, are also healthier. There are fewer nooks and crannies for food to get stuck, and bacteria has a harder time sticking to tooth surfaces and causing trouble. But properly aligned teeth also have another great thing about them - an even bite reduces stress on the jaw. In the previous article I talked about why and how an uneven bite will tax your TMJ, and the problems that can cause. Now let’s talk a little about bites.
Your bite is defined by the way your top and bottom teeth meet each other when you close your mouth. An even bite is when the top and bottom teeth link up and form a wall of teeth, with the top teeth fitting into the bottom teeth, closing the bite. If the top or bottom row is slightly in front of the the other one, this is not a problem, as long as the teeth link up and the bite is ‘closed’.
A pathological bite is one that damages the teeth, the temporomandibular joint, the gums, or any of the internal structures of the mouth. When the top row just forward and leaves the bottom row behind (overbite), or vice versa (underbite), the TMJ can be stretched and can become painful. The lingual surface of the teeth in the row that is forward will also be damaged because they will get scratched up from being touched by the bottom row every single time that you bite down.
The other common problem is an open bite. This means that the teeth do not line up because they are irregular, or being pushed one way or the other by your wisdom teeth, or have some other issue which does not let them line up to each other. This kind of bite can give rise to speech impediments, the drying out of the mouth, and can make the bite weaker, meaning you need to bite down harder and rip the food unevenly. This can cause unnecessary wear and tear, and extra occlusal forces that can damage the teeth and the TMJ.
These problems can be corrected easily and effectively with orthodontic treatment. Braces can set your bite into a healthy position, protecting your teeth and jaw. The difference is not just aesthetic, but functional as well.