The Ideal Bite: What It Looks Like and How You Can Achieve It
One of the things that orthodontists look at is the bite of the patient. You’ve probably heard your orthodontist mention things about your bite. But what is it exactly? In this post, we will talk about everything you need to know about your bite, including how you can have the ideal bite.
What is an Ideal Bite?
First off, let us define what this “bite” is. To put it simply, the bite is the way the upper and lower teeth meet. When orthodontists say “ideal bite,” you may wonder what exactly it is and how these dental professionals know.
Typically, the orthodontist will ask you to expose your teeth in a way that makes you look like you are grinning. At this point, the orthodontist will focus on how your upper and lower teeth fit together. If you have the ideal bite, it means that your upper teeth are just a little bit over the bottom teeth. The molars’ tips should fit the tiny spaces of the molars opposite them.
You can try to determine if you have a healthy bite by looking in the mirror to see how your bottom and upper teeth align. They should come together with the upper teeth slightly covering about half of the lower teeth at the maximum.
Here is a more in-depth description of the ideal bite, which some orthodontists also call “normal” or “healthy”:
1. Your Bite from the Front
The front view is what you see in the mirror when you investigate how your teeth are aligned.
Your bite can be any of the following:
- If the upper front teeth’s edges align with the top of the lower lip, you most likely have an ideal bite. The upper arch should be a little bit wider than your lower arch.
- If your upper teeth are longer than average, you will see a lot of gum tissue when you smile.
- If you have short upper teeth, you will not see enough enamel when you smile. You may have a prematurely old smile, or perhaps you have missing teeth.
- Your teeth are too close together. In that case, about half of the bottom teeth or even longer will be visible when you have your teeth together.
- The opposite of the above is when your upper incisors cover a big part of the lower teeth. We have mentioned above that the ideal bite shows that the upper teeth only go over half of the bottom teeth at the most. You have a deep bite if your upper teeth conceal more than half of your bottom teeth.
- If your upper teeth do not overlap enough with the lower ones, your bite is what’s known as “open.”
Having too narrow or too wide an upper arch will cause the teeth to look like they have crossed over the bottom teeth. This condition is known as a crossbite where the upper teeth can either be in front or behind the lower teeth.
Apart from your teeth themselves, you should also look at your midline or the line between your central incisors. Check if the midline is aligned with the centre of your upper lip. Meanwhile, the lower midline should be parallel with the top midline. The midline shows the relationship between your teeth and your face.
2. Your Bite Viewed from the Top
It’s a little difficult to see your arches from above unless you plan to use a camera to take some snaps or record a video of your teeth. This view lets you see if your teeth are correctly aligned. It is when your teeth have a flowing curve, resembling the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri, USA.
Please take note of each tooth and how they touch one another. All your teeth should be close, with no gaps or spaces and should not overlap, as well. Look in the mirror and see how your bottom teeth appear. If the arch is an almost perfect U-shape with all teeth touching and in the correct position, your bite may be considered ideal. The same goes for your upper arch.
3. Your Bite from the Side
Finally, you can assess your bite by looking at it from either the left or right side, whichever is more comfortable for you. Grin wide, letting yourself see how your teeth touch from the side. An ideal bite typically has the following characteristics:
- The pointed ends or cusps of the upper teeth should fit between two bottom teeth.
- The upper front teeth’s backs should be resting gently with the front portion of the lower teeth. Therefore, your upper teeth should be a little bit in front of your lower teeth when your bite is closed.
- The upper teeth’s edges should not be in direct contact with the edges of your lower teeth at the front. They should not bite behind the lower incisors, as well; otherwise, you have a condition called an underbite.
- The upper teeth should not be too far out in front of your lower teeth. If there is no contact between the upper and lower teeth, it is an overbite.
If you find that you meet some but not all the qualities of an ideal bite, there may be a problem with the positioning of your jaws and teeth. Many patients also have irregularities with the size and shape of their teeth. All these issues can be addressed with the proper orthodontic treatment.
Why Do Bite Misalignments Occur?
Occlusion is the term used by dentists to refer to bite alignment. When the bite is misaligned, it is called malocclusion.
There are various reasons why teeth are not aligned correctly, including:
- Biological inheritance or heredity
- Uneven size of the upper and lower jaws
- Abnormal or mismatched size of the jaw and teeth
- Teeth issues specifically impacted or unerupted teeth and missing or extra teeth
- Cleft palate and other congenital disabilities that affect teeth and gums
- The unsuitability of dental treatments, including poorly-fitting braces, retainers, or crowns
- Jaw injury resulting in misalignment
- Tumours in the mouth or jaw
- Thumb-sucking, tongue thrusting, or prolonged use of pacifiers in kids
Why is an Ideal Bite So Important?
Malocclusions may seem like a problem that you can ignore. Most people believe straightening their bite is just for aesthetic purposes. But it is more than just the looks. When your bite is improperly aligned, you can have issues biting and chewing. You may even develop certain speech problems, especially a lisp, which is the most common.
Some people with a misaligned bite can have difficulty in breathing. Severe malocclusions can lead to abnormal facial structure. Many patients who have a bad bite suffer from bruxism or teeth grinding. It often occurs when they are sleeping, but others grind their teeth in the morning, as well. If bruxism is not addressed, it can result in more teeth problems, such as crowding and even tooth loss.
It is also possible to have temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction. This disorder causes extreme pain involving the improper functioning of the lower jaw’s joints and muscles that are connected to the skull.
On the other hand, when you have a good bite, it is much easier to clean the teeth. A bad bite has an increased risk of cavities and gum disease. But with ideal occlusion, you can have reduced tooth decay. Of course, you need to brush and floss regularly to achieve a healthy mouth. Having a good bite simply lowers your cavities risk but does not eliminate it.
A huge benefit of a good bite related to what was discussed above regarding TMJ. It helps reduce strain on the jaws, which is beneficial if you already have a TMJ disorder.
Four Ways to Achieve the Correct Bite
The orthodontist will first look at your bite and determine the class it belongs to. The classes of malocclusions define the position of the upper and lower jaws about how the upper and lower teeth touch.
These three classes are:
- Class 1 where the upper teeth slightly go over the lower teeth
- Class 2 where the upper jaw and teeth severely overlap the corresponding lower teeth, leading to an overbite
- Class 3 where the lower jaw and teeth severely overlap the upper teeth, leading to an underbite
Class 1 is considered the ideal or normal bite.
Diagnosing your bite often involves a physical examination. In some cases, X-rays may be required to get a more comprehensive view of the mouth, including the teeth, their roots, and the jawbone, as well. Some dentists also take a teeth impression where patients bite on a gooey material to construct a model of their teeth.
Once the orthodontist has concluded that you have an improper bite, a treatment plan will be created especially for you. The treatment will depend on your case, but the typical ways to address malocclusions are:
- Tooth Repair
Let us discuss these treatments one by one.
Braces are the most popular method to correct a bad bite. You may already know that braces are created to straighten teeth. It should be noted that straightening teeth is not the same as fixing a bite. More often than not, traditional braces mainly have brackets and wires. Elastics are then added, usually later on in the treatment. Elastics are like rubber bands that work with the braces to set the upper and lower jaws, moving them into proper alignment. Other types of teeth straightening appliances like Invisalign may also include elastics.
2. Tooth Removal or Extraction
Removing teeth is often a good solution for those with overcrowding issues. After that, the patient will wear braces or aligners to straighten the teeth and correct the bite.
Many patients are worried about tooth extraction, but it is not a scary experience. The dental professional carefully plan the process, allowing for the correct selection of tooth or teeth to be removed. That’s right. You could have one or more teeth extracted, depending on the class of your malocclusion. By removing teeth, you’re granting space for the other teeth to move correctly. It is an efficient treatment for correcting midline deviation while also improving the shape of the jaws or face.
3. Tooth Repair
Treatments for fixing the teeth include reshaping, bonding, and capping. They do more than just provide cosmetic benefits but also help correct misalignment. These procedures, though, are only recommended for those with very mild misalignment. In these cases, the dentist will treat the worn-down teeth through bonding, usually at the back of the mouth, to improve alignment.
Bonding can be combined with contouring to help change the shape, length, and even position of the teeth. These procedures are fast and less invasive, but they are not for everyone. Veneers and crowns are also alternatives for treating malocclusion. Crowns are generally for fixing gaps with the use of porcelain or ceramic caps. Veneers, on the other hand, can be used on patients with crooked teeth and slight misalignment.
If you have severe malocclusion, specifically Class 3, these cosmetic procedures will not help with your bite.
If your jaw is the problem that causes your bite to become misaligned, you may require surgery known as orthognathic surgery. The procedure is performed to reshape your jaw or change its size or length. Orthognathic surgery involves moving the maxilla (upper jaw) to the right place, whether it’s backward or forward. It may also include widening the jaw to provide more space for the teeth. The surgery is usually done in conjunction with other treatments, such as braces.
In most cases, orthodontists refer patients to surgeons to discuss the surgery. The materials for securing the maxilla and mandible are titanium plates and screws. They are durable and virtually invisible so that they will have no effects on your physical appearance.
Your bite can be fine, but it may not be what’s considered “ideal.” If you have concerns about your bite, talk to your Oasis Orthodontics team. Our friendly dental professionals will explain how a specific orthodontic treatment may benefit your smile.