A misaligned jaw, like a misaligned tooth, is now a widespread problem. It is estimated that around 60 percent of children and young people suffer from such a deformity. In addition to general problems with chewing and speaking, a jaw and tooth misalignment can also lead to serious problems.
What is a misaligned jaw (misaligned teeth)?
If children are younger than 9 years, mild measures such as mouth pads are usually taken. These insoles promote muscle growth at important points, so that small jaw and tooth misalignments can be corrected on their own. See AbbreviationFinder for abbreviations related to Misaligned Jaw.
Doctors speak of a misaligned tooth when the teeth are in the wrong relationship to one another. If the shape and position of the upper and lower jaw does not match exactly, then there is a misalignment of the jaw.
Contrary to the position in healthy teeth, which is also called neutral bite, a malposition of teeth or jaw means that the teeth are not arranged symmetrically. Therefore, the incisors cannot intermesh, like scissors, or the molars do not fit on and into each other like gears.
This not only disturbs the overall picture of the face, but also prevents the teeth from chewing optimally. It is also possible that a speech impediment occurs as a result of the misaligned jaw or misaligned teeth.
A jaw misalignment or misaligned teeth can have very different causes. In most cases, however, the cause is congenital. It is particularly problematic in this connection that the hereditary factors for teeth and jaws are inherited separately. This can result in the size of the teeth and the size of the jaw not matching each other. This can lead to crowding of the teeth or, in the opposite case, to a gap in the teeth.
However, certain hereditary diseases or congenital malformations, such as cleft lip and palate or Down’s syndrome, also lead to tooth and jaw malformations.
However, malformations of the jaw and teeth are not always present from birth. Certain behaviors, especially at a young age, can lead to a misaligned jaw or a misaligned tooth. For example, frequent and long-term use of pacifiers or feeding bottles, thumb sucking, premature loss of baby teeth due to tooth decay or accidents, excessive mouth breathing due to health problems, or bad habits such as pressing your tongue against your teeth or chewing your lips, a misaligned tooth, or jaw misalignment can be triggered.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
A jaw misalignment or tooth misalignment can affect both the local jaw area and other organ structures and cause symptoms there. In the mouth, a tooth misalignment can often be recognized by abrasion on the tooth surfaces. This is caused by an imprecise bite and teeth grinding at night, which can also be a consequence and therefore a symptom of jaw or tooth misalignments.
In addition, uneven teeth are also often a factor in the development of caries or periodontal disease, which are also possible signs of malocclusion. Difficulty swallowing or breathing problems can also indicate a jaw misalignment and the resulting functional disorders of the muscles or constrictions.
The term craniomandibular dysfunction (CMD) is often used in connection with the misalignment of the jaw and teeth. This complex of symptoms shows that a malocclusion can affect many other parts of the body. This begins with tension and pain in the muscles of the jaw and neck, which can spread further. It is not uncommon for headaches and back pain to be a symptom that arises on the basis of a misaligned jaw.
Stomach and intestinal problems can also be a consequence of a misaligned jaw. The saying “digestion begins in the mouth” comes to mind here. When teeth are crooked or when the upper and lower jaws are not in proper contact with each other, chewing becomes more difficult, which can result in digestive problems.
Diagnosis & History
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The diagnosis of a tooth or jaw misalignment is first made by a thorough examination. Important signs of a misaligned jaw and teeth can be a visible misalignment, problems closing the lips or chewing, speech impediments, pain and cracking when opening the mouth in the jaw joint. But persistent headaches or snoring can also be an indication of a misaligned jaw.
For trained specialists, a first look into the oral cavity can be enough to justify the suspicion of a misalignment of the jaw or teeth. However, it is important to make an accurate orthodontic diagnosis through impressions of the jaws and various x-rays.
If a jaw misalignment or misaligned teeth is not permanently corrected, it can not only worsen, but it can also lead to inflammation of the mucous membrane, periodontitis, caries, gastrointestinal problems, incorrect posture of the spine and headaches.
An untreated jaw misalignment or misaligned teeth causes an uneven load on the individual teeth and the jaw joints. The consequences are one-sided wear of the chewing surfaces, the formation of sharp edges on the edges of teeth and the breaking off of tooth edges. If the enamel is then missing, tooth decay has an easy time.
Furthermore, the one-sided pressure on the periodontium causes the surrounding gums to shrink, so that over time the necks of the teeth are exposed. The unprotected necks of the teeth cause aching pain when eating hot, cold and spicy food or even when there is a cold draft. One speaks of sensitive teeth. As the condition progresses, inflammatory periodontitis and eventually chronic periodontosis develop.
As gum support decreases, teeth can tilt, twist, and loosen, leading to tooth loss in the worst-case scenario. Gradual arthritic changes in the jaw joints, sometimes with severe pain when opening the mouth and chewing, become an unpleasant permanent condition. Treatment with a bite block requires several visits to the dentist and requires a lot of time and patience over months.
Nevertheless, the reduction in the expected consequences justify the lengthy treatment and the patient’s continued cooperation. Last but not least, treatment of the jaw misalignment saves considerable costs for a later prosthetic restoration of the dentition.
When should you go to the doctor?
If the growing child or adult suffers from problems during the chewing process, a dental examination is advisable. If there are problems when crushing the food or if the food can only be crushed in the mouth with great effort, a doctor is needed. In the case of a misaligned jaw, those affected often avoid eating food that has to be chewed well in the mouth before it is transported into the esophagus.
A doctor should examine the irregularities so that there is no deterioration in the state of health. If pain occurs in the area of the teeth, gums or jaw, a doctor should be consulted. The symptoms often spread to the ears and neck region or the head. Therefore, a doctor’s visit is necessary as soon as severe headaches, insomnia, tension or concentration problems occur repeatedly.
If there is an optical abnormality in the shape of the face, there are already discrepancies that should be discussed with a doctor. If the lower jaw is very much in front of or behind the upper jaw, the grinding process when crushing the food cannot take place sufficiently. If the misalignment is noticed during the growth process, a dental surgery check-up visit is advisable. If the position of the jaw changes over the course of life or if there are problems with existing dentures, a doctor’s visit is necessary.
Treatment & Therapy
A misaligned tooth or jaw does not always have to be corrected. The misalignment should only be corrected if the problems mentioned occur or the occurrence of these problems appears likely. It is true that a correction is possible at any age, but shows better and faster results in children and adolescents. In addition, most health insurance companies only pay for orthodontic treatment up to the age of 18 .
However, if children are younger than 9 years, mild measures such as mouth pads are usually taken. These insoles promote muscle growth at important points, so that small jaw and tooth misalignments can be corrected on their own.
In the case of larger misalignments, however, it is usually necessary to exert external force on the misaligned tooth. This can be done with braces. In the case of a malformation of the incisors, removable braces are often sufficient. However, this should be worn for at least 14 hours a day. If the root position of the teeth has to be massively affected, the patient receives fixed braces. Brackets are glued to the teeth and connected with a thin wire. This causes a permanent force on the teeth.
In adulthood, due to the limited flexibility in the jaw, it may be necessary to extract a few teeth beforehand. Surgical intervention may be necessary in the case of particularly severe misalignments of the jaw. Parts of the jaw can be relocated or removed to correct the misaligned jaw.
Outlook & Forecast
The prognosis of a misaligned jaw depends on the extent of the existing symptoms. In most patients, the misalignment can be corrected with the use of braces. These are worn daily for a few months or years as the patient grows and lead to a gradual change and optimization of the jaw position. The correction tools are checked at regular intervals and adapted to changes. After completion of the treatment, the patient experiences freedom from symptoms for the rest of his life.
In the case of a severe misalignment of the jaw, surgical procedures are used. A full recovery cannot always be made. In these cases, there are often other diseases that prevent this. However, an optimization of the optical change and the functioning of the jaw is usually achieved.
If the jaw position is triggered in adult life due to violence, an accident or a fall, surgical procedures are also used. The prognosis here depends on the individual initial situation of the patient. In many of those affected, it is possible to completely correct the misalignment. After a few months, the patient is then discharged from treatment as cured. In the case of severe injuries, some patients report long-term limitations in the range of motion of the jaw or other irregularities in purchasing processes or speech formation.
In order to prevent tooth misalignment or jaw misalignment, the behaviors mentioned that promote such misalignment should be avoided. This includes in particular the long-term use of feeding bottles, pacifiers, thumb sucking and the like.
The treatment of the misaligned jaw or misaligned teeth by the orthodontist can in some cases be supplemented with the help of special aftercare. This is discussed with the treating orthodontist, in the case of CMD (craniomandibular dysfunction) accompanying the jaw misalignment, possibly also with the orthopedic surgeon or physicians from other disciplines. This must be decided on an individual basis.
The cause of the misaligned jaw and teeth is closely related to the type of aftercare. In the case of teeth that have grown unevenly, it can sometimes be helpful to wear a stabilizer for a certain period of time after the classic treatment with braces. This is adjusted by the orthodontist and ensures the long-term result of the treatment.
If the cause of an orthodontic problem lies in teeth grinding or in the orthopedic area, the aftercare is also coordinated accordingly. This can be psychological therapy with regard to teeth grinding as well as stretching and strengthening certain muscle groups in the fitness area. Sometimes relaxation methods such as progressive muscle relation and autogenic training are also helpful.
Yoga can also restore physical or mental balance. A special bite splint can also be prescribed to prevent teeth grinding at night, which should be worn regularly as part of the aftercare. Regular check-ups by the dentist or orthodontist round off the aftercare.
You can do that yourself
A jaw misalignment or misaligned teeth cannot be treated alone, but requires orthodontic care. In general, thorough oral hygiene is important to support the oral flora and to keep all teeth, especially permanent ones, healthy. The dentist often points out a misaligned jaw even in children and refers the patient to an orthodontist. Children and young people with a misaligned jaw or teeth initially receive removable mouth pads or splintsthat deform the jaw. The cooperation of the patients is decisive for the success of the treatment. The insoles are usually to be worn daily, especially overnight and also during the day with the exception of meals. Regular cleaning of the insoles reduces irritation or inflammation of the gums.
If patients wear the insoles regularly and as prescribed, they have a positive influence on the success of the therapy. If the tooth misalignment is particularly severe, fixed brackets are used on the individual teeth. Treatment in adolescents usually takes several years and is often associated with complications such as pain, difficulty eating and irritation of the gums and oral mucosa. Adequate oral and dental hygiene improves the irritation, soft food and homeopathic painkillers prescribed by the doctor are also recommended.