Is a Bad Bite Related to Jaw Pain, and How Do I Fix It?
The technical term for “bad bite” is malocclusion.
Have you ever noticed a persistent soreness in your jaw, sharp pain while chewing, or other jaw pain? If so, the root cause could be a bad bite, known more formally as malocclusion. This widespread dental issue can cause many problems, including chronic jaw pain.
What is malocclusion?
Malocclusion is the more technical term for a bad bite, a situation where the upper and lower teeth don’t align when you close your mouth. Malocclusion is very common and is one of the primary issues that leads to the need for orthodontic treatment like braces or Invisalign.
Malocclusion can vary in intensity, with more serious malocclusion leading to more pronounced negative effects. There are three distinct classes of malocclusion that you can be diagnosed with:
- Class 1 malocclusion is when your bite is mostly normal, but there is a slight overlap of your upper teeth over your lower teeth.
- Class 2 malocclusion is a pronounced overbite in which the upper jaw extends out over the lower teeth.
- Class 3 malocclusion is an underbite where the lower jaw juts forward, causing the lower teeth to overlap the upper teeth.
Each class can have different long-term oral health impacts and require different treatment approaches.
What can cause malocclusion?
Malocclusion can arise from a wide range of potential causes and can be part of a larger overall orthodontic issue. Malocclusion is most common in children, and treatment is generally carried out at this age.
A bad bite can develop as your child’s permanent teeth come in. In many cases of malocclusion, there simply isn’t enough room in the jaw for the incoming teeth. This causes crowding, which creates forces and strain that affect the alignment of the upper and lower jaw.
Thumb sucking is another potential cause of malocclusion, along with pacifier use beyond the age of three or prolonged bottle use. These actions create an inward force that can narrow the upper dental arch. Also, the presence of the thumb in the mouth for extended periods of time can physically interfere with the emergence of teeth.
Premature loss of baby teeth can also lead to malocclusion. When a tooth is lost before the permanent tooth is ready to emerge and take its place, it opens a gap that other teeth can shift into. This can affect the alignment of other teeth over time, leading to malocclusion.
How does malocclusion contribute to jaw pain?
A bad bite can lead to a variety of symptoms, including jaw pain. Malocclusion can cause a wide range of dental issues. When the teeth are misaligned and overlap, they can come into excessive contact and eventually wear down over time.
As the teeth wear, they become more susceptible to tooth decay due to decreased enamel. This can lead to the need for fillings, root canals, or even tooth extractions. Malocclusion is also associated with gum disease and other oral health issues.
Malocclusion can cause your upper and lower jaw to sit together in awkward positions. It can also introduce strain when chewing, speaking, or otherwise moving the jaw. These issues can lead to jaw pain in the form of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder.
TMJ is the result of inflammation of the muscles around the hinge joint of the lower jaw. When your teeth don’t fit together properly, this joint can be under regular tension and develop chronic pain. The issue can get worse as time goes on without treatment.
What treatments are available for this issue?
If you’re suffering from jaw pain, there are a variety of treatments that can help. For immediate relief, simple over-the-counter pain relievers or an ice pack can help. In the long-term, you’ll need orthodontic treatment to resolve the malocclusion behind the pain.
Your teeth need to be brought back into the proper position through treatments like braces or Invisalign. Most patients prefer Invisalign for aesthetic reasons, and the treatment can resolve a wide range of different issues.
Invisalign can be used in many cases of class 1, class 2, and class 3 malocclusion. However, some cases can be too complex for Invisalign to resolve. In those cases, conventional methods like wire braces may be necessary. In very severe cases, orthodontic surgery or further interventions could be called for.
Quality Dental Care in Austin, TX
If you’re suffering from jaw pain or other symptoms associated with malocclusion, you can come into Parmer Lane Family Dentistry to get to the bottom of it. We’ll evaluate your dental issues and can develop an effective treatment plan that may include Invisalign. Just contact our office today to schedule your appointment.