Today’s world is full of chaos and uncertainty and it may seem like there is not much to smile about. On the other hand, if you take time to think about things on a deeper level, there is actually a lot that warrants a smile. Even the act of smiling has healing properties. Unfortunately, some people miss out due to the self-consciousness that comes from having crooked or misaligned teeth.
The Reign of the Perfect Smile
In recent years, cosmetic dentistry has made a huge impact. People are getting their teeth whitened like never before, and it seems like almost everyone has a smile with perfectly shaped and perfectly aligned teeth. It certainly is not possible that all those people come by these flawless smiles through genetics. Cosmetic dentistry has made it possible for just about anyone to achieve their ideal smile.
If you watch movies, especially those from other countries and those made a few decades ago, you will notice that the teeth on many of the characters are not as perfect as they appear these days. In fact, you may be surprised how dingy and yellow and out of alignment teeth were in the last century. Cosmetic dentistry has changed all that.
While whitening may be the most popular cosmetic procedure for teeth, there are others such as porcelain veneers that are very popular also. Orthodontic treatments are more common since there are now simpler, more convenient ways to straighten teeth that do not require wearing a mouth full of metal braces, wires and ligatures for years.
Are You Hiding Your Smile?
There are individuals who do not like the way their teeth look and consequently hide their smile out of embarrassment or self-consciousness. While you should not be made to feel ashamed or bad about the way your teeth look, it happens. And sometimes we just do it to ourselves because we are so aware of all the beautiful smiles around us. Fortunately, cosmetic dentistry and orthodontics can be used to make your smile better.
To what lengths are you going to keep your smile hidden due to misaligned teeth? Maybe you are not hiding your smile; perhaps you are keeping it in check. Your smile may be big, and you keep your teeth covered. You would probably enjoy smiling more if you felt you had a perfect smile. For some individuals, that is just not in the cards without help. The good news is that help is available.
Causes for Misalignment
The way your teeth fit together is referred to as “occlusion.” It is also sometimes called “bite.” Ideally, when your bite is good, your upper front teeth will fit slightly over the lower ones. Your back teeth, or molars, should fit into the grooves of the opposing teeth. This configuration of occlusion allows you to tear food with your front teeth and grind it thoroughly with your back teeth. It also keeps you from biting your cheeks, lips and tongue.
When the teeth are not in alignment, malocclusion occurs. This condition can be passed down from generation to generation. Sometimes it happens as a result of a size difference between the upper and lower jaws. It can also be a factor of differences between jaw size and tooth size. Overcrowding occurs when teeth and jaw size do not match. Size difference can also cause abnormal bite patterns.
While heredity may factor into many cases of malocclusion, it is not the only factor. Other causes of malocclusion include:
- Cleft lip and cleft palate or other birth abnormalities
- Early habits such as thumb or finger sucking, tongue thrusting, prolonged use of a bottle or pacifier
- Extra teeth, tooth impactions, missing teeth and abnormally shaped teeth
- Severe injury to the jaw causing misalignment
- Tumors of the mouth and jaw
- Issues with ill-fitting dental appliances, fillings, etc.
Malocclusions have different categories. The most common category is Class 1. In this case, the bite is fine, but the upper teeth slightly overlap those on the bottom. Considerable overlap with the upper jaw and teeth indicates a Class 2 malocclusion. This is commonly seen in the case of thumb or finger sucking. Class 3 is known as the underbite. Also called prognathism, this condition is identified when the lower jaw juts forward or protrudes to the point where the lower teeth overlap the upper teeth.
The Effects of Malocclusion
As you can imagine, or maybe experience, malocclusion presents a variety of issues. An open bite can interfere with the ability to bite into food correctly. It can also lead to mouth breathing if you are unable to close your lips.
Some individuals experience difficultly with speech due to misalignment. Lisping is often a result of this condition. There may also be difficulty in chewing your food. When your teeth are out of alignment, they are not functioning optimally. Depending on the severity of the problem, this can also affect your health if your food is not chewed properly and your body is not receiving all the necessary nutrients.
Perhaps one of the most negative effects of malocclusion is the teasing and bullying kids can experience. Malocclusion not only hinders normal alignment of the teeth, it can also create an abnormal appearance of the face. This can be a source of pain and self-consciousness leading to embarrassment or discomfort when in the presence of others.
Regardless of the cause of the misalignment, in many cases there is a remedy. How the condition is addressed depends on the severity and the type of misalignment. Some people may do well with a simple cosmetic fix such as porcelain veneers and others may require some level of orthodontic treatment.
Treatment for Misaligned Teeth
Most problems with malocclusion are very minor. Treatment for the misalignment is not necessary, but some individuals choose cosmetic dentistry to make those minor flaws disappear. Porcelain veneers cover up a host of dental blemishes including a minor misalignment of teeth. It is a simple, straightforward procedure that delivers beautiful results in a small amount of time.
When the misalignment is moderate to severe, treatment is then more concerned with moving the teeth into the correct position. Doing this makes the teeth easier to clean and decreases the opportunity for tooth decay and gingivitis to develop. It also relieves the strain on the teeth, jaws and muscles caused by the misalignment. The risk of developing temporomandibular joint disorder and/or breaking a tooth also diminishes.
Treatments for misaligned teeth can include:
- Braces or aligners to move the teeth into the proper position
- Extraction of extra teeth to eliminate overcrowding
- Addressing problems with irregular or misshapen teeth
- Repairing any dental appliance or restoration that is causing a problem
- Surgery if needed to reshape, lengthen or shorten the jaw
Surgery is rarely needed to address a malocclusion problem. Most issues require minimal treatment, and some can be prevented with early detection. With regular dental exams, your dentist has the opportunity to identify, diagnose and treat an issue before it has a chance to develop into a problematic condition.
Let’s See a Big Smile!
Stress is rampant, but a smile can change things. Not only do smiles make us look better, even healthier, they can also help reduce stress. When you smile, you reduce stress for yourself and others around you. This happens even when you do not feel like smiling or do not know you are smiling.
Your body relaxes when you smile, and this helps improve your immune system. Your mood brightens and it can also brighten the mood of others because smiles are contagious. This is a good thing because they also release endorphins, the feel-good chemicals in the brain.
Smiling delivers a wide variety of positive benefits, so show your smile! And if you are not happy with the way it looks, contact Aesthetic & Implant Dentistry of Atlanta. We will help you attain a smile you can show with pride.