Can braces fix an overbite? Can I get Invisalign for a crossbite? These are the types of questions we get a lot from our Richmond orthodontics patients. The good news is, thanks to our depth of experience, we can treat a wide variety of orthodontic cases, ranging from mild to very complex, at Gardner & La Rochelle Orthodontics. While every smile is unique and you could even have a mixture of bite concerns, these are the types of malocclusion (improper bite) we see most commonly at our practice:
When the top teeth stick out too far in front of the bottom teeth, it’s known as an overbite, also called overjet. The majority of people have some degree of an overbite but when the space between the upper and lower teeth is significant, problems like excessive wear and jaw discomfort can occur. Additionally, an overbite makes the upper front teeth more susceptible to injury.
An underbite is characterized by lower teeth that sit in front of the upper teeth. It’s often the result of the top and bottom jaw growing at different rates. An underbite makes it hard to chew and speak properly and can also lead to uneven wear of the teeth. Since this type of malocclusion is skeletal in nature, it’s very beneficial if it’s diagnosed early.
When there isn’t enough room in the jaw to fit all of the teeth, we call it crowding. Often, in an effort to squeeze in the limited space, teeth will overlap, shift out of line or twist. Crowding can be caused by losing primary teeth too early, permanent teeth erupting incorrectly or an imbalance in the tooth-to-jaw size ratio. Crowded teeth are harder to brush and floss properly, which increases the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
Spacing is when you have gaps between two or more teeth. It can be caused by teeth that are too narrow for the jaw, certain oral habits, such as prolonged thumb sucking, or missing teeth. While, of course, it’s a cosmetic concern, spacing can also have a negative impact on the health of your gums.
If some of the upper teeth sit inside of some of the lower teeth when your jaws are closed together, it’s known as a crossbite. You can have a posterior crossbite or an anterior crossbite depending on which teeth are involved. Crossbites can be caused by trauma, certain oral habits, genetics or the early loss of baby teeth. Patients often compensate by shifting their jaw to one side, which can cause permanent changes in the facial structure if not corrected.
If your top teeth and bottom teeth don’t come together when you close your mouth, it’s referred to as an open bite. This can affect your ability to bite and chew. Open bites are typically caused by genetics or oral habits, including tongue thrusting and prolonged pacifier use or thumb sucking.