Mar 31, 2009
What causes a bad bite?
Is your bite the cause of your daily headaches, dizziness, etc……continued
In my last blog I discussed how malocclusion (bad bite) can be the cause of TMD ( temporomandibular dysfunction) such as headaches, dizziness, clicking of the jaw joints, and neck and shoulder aches to name a few. In this article I would like to discuss the causes that lead to malocclusion.
The majority of malocclusions (bad bite) start at infancy, during the development of the cranio-mandibular (head & jaw) bones. During this stage any object placed in the oral cavity on which an infant *****, can act as an orthodontic appliance, depending on the force, intensity, direction, and duration of the sucking. When sucking reflex and/or nutritional needs are not met, an infant will attempt to satisfy those needs by sucking on any object that approximates its oral cavity. To name a few:
• Appendages (fingers, toes, fist)
• Milk bottles fitted with conventional nipples
• Pacifiers (non-orthodontic)
Such harmful habits if continued could cause the oral cavity to grow and conform to the shape of the object. Ultimately causing a constricted upper arch, high palatal vault (roof of the mouth), low external muscle force, open lip posture, a mouth breathing habit, and a tongue trust. Because of continued displacement of the tongue, lips, and cheeks, form and function are affected as a result of intra-oral and extra-oral muscle imbalance. The lips become weak and the tongue looses its normal force, hence, the teeth develop a malocclusion as they grow in and mature.
Besides an abnormal growth malocclusion can also be caused by allergies and mouth breathing. Chronic mouth breathing will result in malocclusion since the tongue is no longer confined in its normal position to offset the constant force of the lip and cheek muscles against the teeth. To demonstrate this, one may hold their nose and breathe through their mouth and observe the tongue position! The primary cause of chronic mouth breathing in children is frequent upper respiratory tract allergies and/or enlarged tonsils and adenoids.
In adults, in addition to enlarged tonsils and adenoids, mouth breathing could also be due to nasal passage obstructions such as a deviated septum. Also, malocclusion in adults can also be seen with loss of teeth and grinding, which will cause a shift in the normal positional anatomy of the dentition. Hence, causing muscular and postural imbalance of the lower jaw in relation to the skull. Which ultimately could lead to TMD symptoms.
The concept of the mandible (lower jaw) being a free floating bony structure and its positional neuromuscular association to the maxilla (upper jaw) and the skull and the whole postural system is still not fully understood. But by observing and following good habits most malocclusion can be avoided in later stages of life. Preventing most TMD problems in later life should begin immediately after birth. Appendage, object, and conventional pacifier sucking should be controlled in early stages of infancy.
I am always presented with this question by concerned parents: “When should we consider orthodontics for our child?” My answer is very simple: “The day the child was born!”