In the field of orthodontics, a malocclusion is seen in the misalignment of teeth, or teeth that don’t sit together evenly when the jaws are closed – the condition is more simply known as a bad bite. A bad bite not only looks uncomfortable, but according to dental professional Dr. Beh, Clinical Consultant and President of the Malaysian Oral Implantology Association, can lead to less-than-fulfilling social relationships and affect quality of life.
The pattern behind a bad bite can be attributed to the formation of the temporomandibular joint, deep down in the skeleton. A poorly formed temporomandibular joint will give rise to a wide range of dental problems such as the improper positioning of teeth, a protrusive or retrusive jaw, an open bite, tooth wear due to grinding and clenching of teeth, and so forth. A bad bite is likely to cause a person to be unable to breathe properly due to narrowed airways; frequently scrape or bite their tongue or cheek which come in the way of misaligned teeth; or have improper tongue resting or swallowing position.
Other body parts – including immediate areas such as the neck, shoulder, and back; further down in the pelvic area; and the whole-body posture may also be affected from a bad bite.
Left unchecked, a bad bite could eventually interfere with sleep and wreak havoc on an adult’s metabolism. It can similarly affect normal growth and development in children, leading to physical changes such as an elongated face, droopy eyes, narrow nostrils, trouble sealing lips, a narrowed upper jaw, or a forward/backward bite.
Dr. Beh, who suffered from bad bite as a child, recalls the discomfort the ordeal caused: as his other teeth moved to accommodate the removal of an incorrectly positioned tooth, his face became slanted, and his smile was affected. His self-confidence took a hit, as did his quality of life – even taking a picture would make him anxious as a teen. He also experienced bodily pains due to the misaligned structure of his jaw.
Today, Dr. Beh is an accomplished dentist, and has coined the Face Dental Concept which explains how the structure of one’s jaw can affect the whole body. Dr. Beh believes that dentistry can positively impact one’s life from the inside out, just as how so many bodily issues could stem from a bad bite.
The implantologist still recommends patients maintain good dental health by brushing teeth twice a day, with the correct technique; it is essential to go for a check-up every 6 months by a certified dentist for potential problems that may arise and prevent them from worsening.
For a bad bite, a dentist may opt for myofunctional therapy (appliance to train your tongue muscle and change your habits) combined with breathing techniques; orthodontics (braces or clear aligners); dental orthotics (appliance to correct the position of the jaw), or full mouth rehabilitation with either fillings or crowns/veneers, Dr. Beh said.