The misalignment of the upper and lower teeth, known as a misaligned jaw, can have negative effects on both your physical and emotional well-being. Severe cases of misaligned jaws can hinder basic functions such as eating, speaking, breathing, and sleeping. Some individuals even experience discomfort or pain when their jaw is not in motion. The temporomandibular joint, which acts as a hinge connecting the jawbone to the skull, plays a crucial role in the functionality of the jaw. This intricate system, composed of ligaments, muscles, discs, and bone, is prone to misalignments that result in mismatched bites.
Dr. Donnelly, at 24th Street Dental Biltmore, provides a multitude of treatment options to address various misalignments, aiming to enhance both the appearance of your smile and your overall dental well-being. One such treatment is referred to as orthognathic surgery.
Jaw misalignments, also known as malocclusions, occur when the upper and lower teeth do not fit together properly. This can result in a variety of issues, including difficulty chewing, speaking, or even breathing. Causes of jaw misalignments can range from genetics to childhood habits such as thumb sucking. Common types of malocclusions include overbites, underbites, crossbites, and open bites. Treatment for jaw misalignments may include orthodontic braces, jaw surgery, or the use of oral appliances. It is important to address jaw misalignments early on, as they can have negative effects on dental health and overall well-being.
In orthodontics and general dentistry, we use the term “malocclusion” to refer to a misaligned bite. There are three categories or classifications of malocclusion, which are typically referred to in English.
- Class I – The lower and upper molars are correctly aligned, but there is insufficient or excessive jaw space.
- Class II – The lower molars are positioned further back towards the throat, but still align with the upper molars.
- Class III malocclusion occurs when the lower molars are positioned too far forward and do not properly align with the upper molars. This misalignment can result in protruding lower teeth and a protruding jaw.
An overbite is the most common type of malocclusion, occurring when the jaw or teeth are misshapen or sized. This may be due to either an excess of space in the jaw or a lack of space to accommodate all the teeth. In infants, habits like thumb-sucking, excessive bottle use, and prolonged pacifier use can result in an overbite. For older children, chronic nail biting and chewing on hard objects can also contribute to the development of an overbite. Other factors that can cause an overbite include bruxism (teeth grinding), genetic factors, and temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ).
An underbite refers to a condition where the lower jaw protrudes beyond the upper teeth, causing the bottom teeth to be positioned forward when the mouth is closed. Underbites are not as common as overbites and only affect around five to ten percent of the population. A perfect bite is when the top front teeth slightly overlap the bottom teeth, which is the complete opposite of an underbite. Despite the severity of an underbite being variable, even a slight underbite can lead to significant issues. If you or your child has an underbite, it is highly recommended that you seek treatment as soon as possible to correct the alignment.
A crossbite occurs when the upper teeth rest inside the lower teeth when the mouth is closed. This can happen with the front teeth or the back teeth, or both. Most crossbites are hereditary, but there are other factors that can speed up the development of a crossbite, such as prolonged pacifier use, delayed loss of primary teeth, oversized tonsils, and breathing through the mouth. Severe crossbites can affect everyday functions like chewing and talking. It’s important to detect and treat crossbites early, especially while a child’s mouth and jaws are still developing and responsive to orthodontic treatment. If you or your child has a crossbite, it’s recommended to seek immediate treatment.
An open bite occurs when the upper and lower teeth do not come together when the mouth is closed. This can cause aesthetic concerns and difficulties with speaking, such as a lisp or speech impediment. There are three main factors that contribute to an open bite: skeletal issues, dental issues, and detrimental oral habits. A genetic crossbite involves skeletal issues, where the molars or jawbones grow apart. A “simple” open bite is caused by dental issues, usually in children with a mix of primary and permanent teeth. Thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, and other habits also contribute to open bites.
If you have severe jaw misalignment, orthognathic surgery may be recommended. This surgical procedure involves realigning the jaws using plates, templates, screws, and wires. Prior to the surgery, braces are typically worn for nine to 18 months to ensure the teeth are in the correct position. Once the teeth are properly aligned, Dr. Donnelly, at 24th Street Dental Biltmore, will proceed with the rest of the treatment and remove the braces.
Orthognathic surgery is a major procedure, but it may be necessary to alleviate symptoms such as temporomandibular joint pain, headaches, and severe malocclusions that affect chewing, speaking, and sleeping. If you require orthognathic surgery, you can trust Dr. Donnelly, who has many years of experience treating a wide range of oral health issues.
24th Street Dental Biltmore offers orthognathic surgery because of our expertise and ability to perform the procedure correctly. Don’t entrust your oral health to someone without the same reputation as ours!
To find out more about orthognathic surgery and our other services at 24th Street Dental Biltmore, simply click here or give us a call at (602) 468-1135. Our team will be delighted to arrange an appointment with the leading dentist in Phoenix.