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    Dental Health With Crooked Teeth and Misaligned Bites

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    There are several reasons why some people's teeth grow in crooked, overlapping, or twisted. Some people's mouths are too small for their teeth, which crowds the teeth and causes them to shift. In other cases, a person's upper and lower jaws aren't the same size or are malformed, resulting in either an overbite, when there is excessive protrusion of the upper jaw, or an under bite, when the lower jaw protrudes forward causing the lower jaw and teeth to extend out beyond the upper teeth.

    Most often crooked teeth, overbites, and underbites are inherited traits just as the color of your eyes or size of your hands. Other causes of misaligned bites are early loss of baby or adult teeth; improper fit of dental restorations (for example, fillings or crowns); gingivitis (gum disease); undue pressure on the teeth and gums; misalignment of the jaw after an injury; tumors of the mouth or jaw; or common oral health problems in children such as thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, pacifier use beyond the age of three, or prolonged use of a bottle.

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    What Problems Come With Crooked Teeth and Misaligned Bites?

    Crooked teeth and misaligned bites can:

    • Interfere with proper chewing.
    • Make keeping teeth clean more of a challenge, increasing the risk of tooth decay, cavities, and gingivitis.
    • Strain the teeth, jaws, and muscles, increasing the risk of breaking a tooth.
    • Make people feel self-conscious about their appearance and affect their self-esteem.

    How Do I Know if My Teeth Are Crooked or My Bite Is Misaligned?

    While you can see for yourself if teeth are crooked, your dentist can determine if the problem warrants treatment. Your dentist will look for the following signs:

    • Abnormal alignment of teeth
    • Abnormal appearance of the face
    • Difficulty or discomfort when chewing or biting
    • Speech difficulties, including a lisp

    Your dentist will usually refer you to an orthodontist -- a dentist who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of crooked teeth and misaligned jaws.

    What Tests Can I Expect at the Orthodontist?

    The orthodontist will likely take X-rays, photographs of your face, and teeth impressions to determine if and what type of treatment is needed. X-rays provide information on the position of your teeth and roots and if any teeth have yet to come through the gums. Special cephalometrics or panoramic X-rays show the relationship of the teeth to the jaws and the jaws to the head. Your orthodontist may also want to take regular photographs of your face to further examine the relationship between the teeth, jaws, and head. Finally, impressions may be made of your teeth. This is done by having you bite down on a soft material that is later used to create an exact copy of your teeth.

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    How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

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    Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

    You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

    You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

    Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

    SOURCES:

    American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

    This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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