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About the Causes and Treatments for a Misaligned Jaw

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Misaligned Jaw — Causes and Remedies

The human jaw is respectively made up of the upper and lower bone, i.e., the maxilla and the mandible. With a closed mouth, both parts should be set comfortably and evenly. When the teeth and/or jaw are misaligned, we are dealing with malocclusions. Luckily, orthodontic therapy can correct teeth alignment.

It is a quite common dental problem and you would do well to learn more. It is hard to find the perfect set of teeth. Most people have some measure of malocclusion varying in degree from minor to quite severe. More obvious irregularities can lead to more serious oral complications and have a significant mental impact.

There Are Three Classes of Malocclusion:

Class 1: the bite is mostly normal, but the upper teeth only overlap the lower marginally; this category is the most common

Class 2: the overbite or retrognathism. This occurs when the upper jaw and teeth overjet the bottom jaw and teeth.

Class 3: the underbite or prognathism. This happens when the upper front teeth are too far behind your lower front teeth, and/or the lower jaw overlaps the upper jaw.

What Causes Malocclusion?

A misaligned or “bad bite” can be caused by several circumstances:

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD) – This boils down to improper functioning of the joint used to talk, chew, or yawn that connects the lower jaw and the skull. This disorder is famous for triggering headaches and pain in the face, jaw, and neck. Sources can be the erosion of cartilage disks that separate the bones, arthritis, poor diet, or even allergies. 

Bruxism – Grinding or clenching, often due to stress, puts excessive tension and pressure on teeth, dental bridges, implants, and other tooth restorations, causing wear, damage, and misplacement.

Trauma – if your jaw is damaged during an accident, fall, assault, or a sports-related injury, a break, fracture, or dislocation that heals inadequately might result in jaw misalignment. 

Development – Children sucking their thumbs or overusing a pacifier can push the teeth out of position. If your teeth are too large or overcrowded, they are often pushed out of place. Chronically poor posture can also lead to the jaw growing out of line.

Missing teeth – If you lose a tooth, the remaining teeth may shift to fill that gap, causing malocclusions

Genetics – Some people are born with a congenital condition or birth defect that inherently affects the size and shape of the jaw. You could have a naturally crooked or faulty jaw.

Effects of a Misaligned Jaw

Depending on how extreme, an uneven jaw can impact your gums, muscles, bones, and the ligaments of the face. It might also affect your overall health in unexpected ways. Symptoms might present with:

  • Pain or tightness of the facial muscles, neck, and jaw.
  • Headaches, migraines, and/or pain in the back and shoulder area.
  • Clicking, grinding, or locking of the jaw.
  • Ringing, buzzing, or popping in the ears.
  • Difficulty chewing, drinking, or speaking.
  • Cosmetic changes like asymmetrical, stretched facial features, a gummy open-mouthed smile, or a long droopy jaw. 
  • Loose or missing teeth.
  • wearing or damage on tooth surfaces
  • Receding gums or damage to surrounding tissues caused by friction. Gum disease due to bacteria and plaque build-up in hard-to-reach crevices.
  • Sleep apnea and mouth breathing.

Studies show that there is a connection between people who have oral malocclusions and diminished mental health. To evade stigmatization, they avoid social situations and relationships, feeling low self-esteem due to their appearance.

How to Fix a Misaligned Jaw

A dental professional might take an X-ray to observe any possible deviations. An impression of your teeth could also reveal any crookedness. If you have issues with moderate to severe malocclusion, an orthodontist can help correct the disproportions. 

Progress is gradual and usually takes months or years to repair. Steps to renovation will depend on the severity of the problem, the cause, the overall health of the teeth, gums, and supporting tissues and bones, a patient’s health history, and any cosmetic concerns. Some might choose to forgo therapy and live with the imperfections if the symptoms are very mild or absent.

Dental Appliances

Braces: the cornerstone of orthodontic care. They use brackets glued to the teeth to gradually pull teeth into proper alignment and reshape the underlying bone with a wire arch and elastics. 

Headgear: straps fixed outside of the mouth around your head are used to support the work of braces.

Retainers: clear, removable aligners, like Invisalign, make corrections to less severe malocclusions. An Invisalign dentist will make these custom devices to gradually straighten the teeth without using brackets or wires.

Mouthguards and splints: instruments are worn in the mouth to help reposition the jaw and encourage proper teeth alignment.

Bridges: If poor spacing made by missing teeth is the origin of the malocclusion, dental bridges and false teeth can correct positioning

Reverse pull face mask: straps fixed outside of the mouth around your head are used to adjust an underbite supported by braces installed to the backs of the upper teeth.

Upper jaw expander: essentially, a device with a wireframe that fits across the palate of your mouth to widen the upper jaw. 

Surgery  

Typically reserved for advanced cases, invasive operations intended to correct malocclusions and reshape the jaw properly are called orthognathic surgeries. They include:

Extraction: the complete removal of one or more teeth to improve overcrowding.

Maxillary osteotomy: a surgeon will remove or reposition part of the upper jaw (maxilla) to correct an over or open bite.

Mandibular osteotomy: involves the shift or reduction of the lower jaw back to properly line up with the maxilla to reduce an underbite.

Genioplasty: this surgery reshapes the mandible or chin to realign the jaw and correct teeth alignment

Pain Management 

Discomfort due to coping with a jaw that doesn’t sit in line could be eased with pain management. Try applying ice to sore spots to reduce inflammation. Choose an over-the-counter pain reliever, like ibuprofen or acetaminophen, and use it as directed. 

Also, practice gentle TMJ exercises to condition the muscles and improve movement. Attempt to limit strenuous jaw action and eating tough foods. Do your best to reduce stress to help relax and ease tension in the neck and jaw.

Post-surgery sometimes requires temporary jaw wiring or the use of pins to support the structure while healing. Besides prescribed medication, your caregiver may consider therapies, such as transcutaneous electrical neurostimulation (TENS) and radio wave therapy for chronic jaw pain. 

Finally, visit an orthodontist to examine for any malocclusions. They will provide efficient and innovative therapies for proper jaw alignment and an impeccable smile. Be sure to attend all follow-ups as recommended and continue seeing your regular dentists for check-ups and cleanings every six months!

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