Why do I have a bad bite?
A bad bite can take many forms—underbite, overbite, crossbite, or even as simple as dental crowding. It can also lead to an underdeveloped ‘mouth breather jaw.’
Many of us go years with a bad bite and never encounter problems. For others, though, a bad bite can cause a whole host of dental and health issues.
Crooked teeth are harder to clean, making them more susceptible to dental cavities and gum disease. Misaligned teeth can also wear down faster, leading to broken teeth, crowns, loose teeth, sore teeth and the list goes on.
Misaligned teeth are often a sign of more significant problems like TMJ dysfunction, bad posture, and an inadequate airway.
So, we know these are all problems that should be addressed to ensure optimal dental health. But, the real question is, why are we all so screwed up, anyway?
We can look to the industrial revolution as the source of many of our modern day dental issues.
With all of the great and wonderful things that came out of the industrial revolution began some side effects that are not so desirable. Air pollution and processed, soft sugary foods being the worst offenders.
Air pollution leads to allergies in some people. Add to that allergies and sensitivities to dairy, wheat/gluten, soy, and corn means there are a lot of stuffy noses walking around! Allergies often mean stuffy noses and mouth breathing. Humans are designed to breathe through our noses.
When we have to breathe through our mouths because of stuffy noses, all sorts of things can happen. In adults, mouth breathing can lead to dry mouth induced dental cavities, gum disease, and increased snoring.
The tongue muscle acts as a natural palate expander counteracting forces from the cheek muscles to ensure the jaw is big enough for the teeth to come in straight and for the jaw to develop to its full genetic potential.
With mouth breathing, the tongue sits on top of the bottom teeth or even lower resting between the lower teeth on the floor of the mouth. In a developing child, this allows the forces of the cheek muscles to impede upper jaw growth and tooth eruption resulting in narrow arches and crowded teeth.
If the tongue is on top of the bottom teeth while they are erupting, they will not enter the mouth entirely causing a deep bite or an overbite.
If the tongue sits lower on the floor of the mouth, the bottom jaw grows larger than the top and results in an underbite or “bulldog bite”.
Crossbites can occur in either situation when the growth of the top or bottom jaw in uneven or an early tooth contact in the bite cause the jaw to shift to one side to avoid tooth pain.
Soft, sugary, processed foods are also an issue during growth and development. These types of food merely make us lazy chewers—we don’t have to work as hard to eat these things. It’s basically like not exercising. When we don’t use and work our jaw muscles as much as they need, our facial muscles don’t develop fully and are often weak.
Why did our ancestors not have mouth breathing face?
You can look to indigenous societies and our hunter-gatherer ancestors to see just what our jaws should look like—broad, no crooked teeth with plenty of room for wisdom teeth. There is little evidence of dental diseases like decay and gum disease in hunter-gatherer skulls as well!
The takeaway is that we need to do everything for our kiddos to ensure proper nasal breathing and adequate chewing.
A physiologic dentist like Dr. Randi Green can perform a detailed evaluation in children to ensure proper oral development.
By catching these risk factors early, you can help your child minimize their risk for dental problems later in life.
For adults, there is hope with
Physiologic orthodontics paired with myofunctional therapy can correct many bad dental bites and thee associated issues for most patients.
Myofunctional therapy also helps to correct bad swallows, tongue thrusts, incorrect resting tongue position, as well as weak jaw and facial muscles.