Having a bad bite can be difficult to cope with. It can lead to discomfort and oral pain the longer the problem persists. While for some, a bad bite may be something you live with your entire life, others may develop a bad bite after the development of other dental issues like tooth decay or jaw injury. The scope by which a bite may be misaligned can vary widely. However, in almost all circumstances, treatment for a bad bite is possible through oral surgery.
Bad Bite: What does it Mean?
The phrase ‘bad bite’ refers to a medical condition known as malocclusion. This condition develops when the teeth along the upper jaw, or the top of the mouth, do not meet the teeth on the bottom of the mouth. This misalignment can put added stress on the jaw and can make it uncomfortable to chew food easily. While there are some cases of malocclusion that develop as a result of a congenital, or birth defect, there are other instances in which a traumatic injury can cause the misalignment to develop.
There are two primary types of malocclusion:
- Tooth malocclusion: This type of misalignment is the easiest to treat. This develops when there is a misalignment due to the shape and placement of the teeth. It is commonly addressed through orthodontic treatment like braces.
- Jaw malocclusion: This type of misalignment develops as a result of a defect or developed damage to the jaw. This type will typically require more intensive treatment, potentially including oral surgery.
Malocclusion can cause severe pain and discomfort if left untreated. Some of the most common symptoms of having a malocclusion include:
- Difficulty chewing
- Speech difficulty
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- TMJ (temporomandibular joint problems)
- Difficulty or discomfort smiling
Oral Surgery for Malocclusion
When a bad bite develops as a result of a jaw malocclusion, orthognathic surgery is typically the most highly recommended solution to address the problem. While oral surgery is not necessarily recommended for everyone, those who have an especially bad bite or who are experiencing severe discomfort as a result of the bad bite are likely to be referred to an oral surgeon to discuss this as a treatment option.
Orthognathic surgery helps treat the problem by physically adjusting the way in which the jaw fits in the mouth. Frequently, this will include adjusting the upper jaw either forward or backward so that it matches the placement of the lower jaw. In some cases, especially in cases of a birth defect, the upper jaw may need to be physically widened to correct the alignment. The new alignment is typically secured through the use of titanium plates and screws. All of this is updated internally, and so there is no impact on the appearance of the jaw from a cosmetic perspective.
It is common for those who undergo orthognathic surgery to require the use of orthodontic treatment, like braces, following this procedure to help reinforce the new placement of the jaw.
Long-Term Impact of Orthognathic Surgery
Most who undergo orthognathic surgery to correct jaw misalignment or a bad bite experience relief as a result of surgical intervention. The recovery period following this type of oral surgery is somewhat rapid. The recovery time will vary slightly from patient to patient. Following the surgical procedure you will be restricted to following a liquid diet for several days, followed by a soft-food diet for up to a month to reduce pressure on the jaw. Most people are able to return to following a normal diet after just six weeks post-surgery.
If you are experiencing discomfort as a result of a bad bite, then it may be time to discuss your treatment options with your orthodontist or oral surgeon. Your dental specialist at Sedaros Oral Surgery will determine the cause of your misalignment and then will make a recommendation regarding the best form of treatment for your particular needs. For more information about correcting a misalignment or malocclusion, contact us in Melbourne today.