Bites That Can Lead to Chipped Teeth
Imagine chewing on food when you hear a strange sound inside your mouth, like something breaking off. What just happened? You chipped a tooth. How did that happen?
The cause might be your bite.
Having an incorrect bite can affect how you speak, eat, swallow, and sleep. The good news is that you can fix both chipped teeth and a bad bite. We will explain how.
What is a Incorrect or “Bad” Bite?
Your orthodontist might use the term malocclusion, which literally means “bad bite” in Latin. It’s an overarching term for several different kinds of bad bites (the way the top teeth and bottom teeth come together). And those bad bites can cause chipped teeth, among other problems.
Here are common bad bites that lead to chipped teeth:
1. Protrusive incisors. You’ve probably heard this called an “overbite in lay terms.” This occurs when the upper teeth extend too far forward (protrude) or in front of the lower teeth (see Photos 1-3). Technically this is called overjet…but we will use “overbite” for the article. An “overbite” can be caused by a number of different things: thumb sucking; nail biting; lip biting; misaligned jaws, or even heredity. Protrusive teeth in children can lead to teasing or bullying. It can also compromise a person’s ability to chew correctly. Having protrusive teeth can make them more prone to trauma/being chipped during a fall.
2. Prognathism. This is also known as an “underbite.” It is the opposite of an “overbite”, when the lower teeth extend too far forward in front of the upper teeth. The teeth do not interdigitate properly and this can cause excessive wear and chipping of the enamel (See Photo 4.)
3. Retrusive incisors. This occurs when the teeth slant inward at an angle. Common causes are when the teeth erupt at an angle, crowded teeth, accidents, tooth extractions, or tooth disorders. As with other malocclusions, retrusive teeth can affect chewing. (See Photos 5-7.). Having retrusive incisors does not allow the proper range of motion for your lower jaw. As your lower jaw closes, often the lower front teeth can traumatically collide with your upper teeth causing chips, breaks and fractures of the upper or lower front teeth.
4. Edge-to-edge bites. This occurs when the biting edges of the upper front teeth bite directly onto the lower front teeth. This can interfere with chewing, particularly with the incisors. (See Photo 8) and lead to chips in the front teeth.
How Do I Fix a Chipped Tooth?
The sooner you fix your chipped tooth, the better. If the chip extends to the interior nerves, you could experience pain when chewing or drinking cold or hot drinks. A chipped tooth, when severe, can allow bacteria to infect the pulp of the tooth, which would then necessitate a root canal.
Most of the time, a chipped tooth can be fixed in two ways: dental fillings and dental bonding. Both of these can be done fairly quickly by your dentist. However, if you do not address the bite that is leading to the chipped teeth, then you will just break them again.
How Do I Fix My Bad Bite?
An orthodontist can correct a malocclusion in a number of different ways. The treatment will be determined by the severity of the problem. Here are the steps to correcting a bad bite.
Step 1: Diagnosis. Before an orthodontist can create a treatment plan, they need to know the source of the problem. When you come into our office, we will take a series of photos and x-rays that will show the placement of the teeth and the position of the jaws in relationship to each other.
Step 2: Treatment Planning. We will suggest a treatment plan that is tailored to your unique situation. Some options will include:
- Braces. This is the most common option for treating a bad bite in both children and adults. They consist of brackets and wires and other materials that put pressure on the teeth to move them into correct alignment.
- Invisalign. These are like plastic invisible braces. They are an alternative to braces and utilizes trays that fit over your teeth and slowly move them into correct alignment. We will take a 3D scan of your teeth and will create the trays from the scan. You change the trays weekly and visit our office approximately every 12 weeks for in person checkups. Once you have started treatment we even do virtual checkups to save you time.
- Palate Expansion. Palate is another name for the roof of the mouth. This procedure is usually used to treat kids and teens when the upper jaw is too small to accommodate incoming adult teeth. An expander is attached to the upper molars and gradually widens the palate, so the adult teeth have room to grow in properly.
- Surgery. This is the most intrusive option and is reserved for severe malocclusions and is done only after jaw growth is complete. Surgery takes place about one or two years after wearing braces to put the teeth in the proper alignment within each jaw.
Step 3: Overview of Cost. We work hard to make orthodontic treatment affordable. We have payment plans to suit different budgets. Of course, we accept most insurance plans, and we will file the paperwork with your insurance company. And if you pay the full amount of treatment upfront, we offer a discount.
If you are ready to achieve a correct bite you can schedule a consultation by calling 843-871-4411 or request an appointment online via our contact form.