Do You Have a Normal Bite?

Have you ever wondered if your bite is normal? What even is a normal bite?

The History of the Normal Bite

As early as the 1800s, dentists saw a need to classify what a normal bite might look like.  The need for this classification arose as dentists made false or prosthetic type teeth to replace missing ones.   

If you are missing one or two teeth, it is likely obvious where the teeth go. However, imagine replacing an entire upper arch of teeth—dentists need to know where to put them!  Edward Angle, a young prosthodontist (basically, a dentist the specializes in prosthetics), was one of the first to recognize this and work to put together a classification system or guide for replacing teeth.

graphic showing the three classes as developed by angle
Source: Quizlet

Angle’s Classification System

Edward Angle was a prosthodontist as well as the father of modern orthodontics. He gave us the first useful classification of bites in 1890, Angle’s Classification System. With this system, he provided a relatively simple definition of normal as well as abnormal bites.  

Angle’s classification was based on the relationship or articulation of the upper first molar to the lower first molar. Generally, he classified molars as being Class I, Class II and Class III depending on their sagittal position. Class I is a normal molar relationship, Class II is similar to buck teeth or “overbite,” and Class III is similar to an underbite.  

Larrys Andrews’ Six Keys

Larry Andrews expanded on Angle’s work. Andrews recognized that even when Angle’s classification was achieved, some bites still did not look or fit well. During the 1960s, he found 120 people with what was deemed a normal bite, according to Angle and according to professional judgment.   

These models met Angle’s criteria but further than that he could find no flaws in the way the teeth were arranged nor how they appeared to function.  He was the next big player in developing a system that went further to describe a normal bite. From these 120 models, he developed six keys to normal bite.  

child smilingThose 6 keys are: 

  1.  The posterior teeth should be positioned normally according to Angle’s classification.  
  2. The angulation (or tip) of each tooth. He stated that the gingival portion of the long axis of each tooth should be more distal to the incisal portion the same tooth. 
  3. Inclination or torque.  The front teeth should be angled so that they do not over-erupt into a severe overbite. 
  4. No rotated teeth 
  5. No spaces between the teeth.  
  6. The plane of the bite in the lateral view should be flat and not excessively curved.

Angle and Andrews are a great place to start when looking at a normal bite.  Once we have established a baseline of where teeth should be, we can then diagnose how much they deviate from that baseline.  

We consider these factors when looking at bites and building treatment plans for our patients:

  1. The Face. Esthetics place a huge role in orthodontic diagnosing and treatment plans.
  2. The upper and lower jaws and how they relate to each other.
  3. Andrews’ 6 keys to occlusion (or 6 keys to a good bite)
  4. Angle’s classification system

If you would like to schedule a complimentary bite or smile analysis to see if your bite is normal, don’t hesitate to give us a call today at 843-871-4411!

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