Misaligned Teeth Affect Chewing and Induce Periodontal Diseases

Misaligned Teeth Affect Chewing and Induce Periodontal Diseases
Malocclusion is not a disease, but it can cause some problems in life that require more attention. (Alex Mit/Shutterstock)

Malocclusions (bad bites) not only affect the facial appearance and shape of the face but also affect oral health and chewing function.

Malocclusion occurs when the teeth are misaligned, including crowded teeth, gapped teeth, overbites, and crossbites.

Malocclusion is caused by the size difference between the jaws and teeth and is most often hereditary. However, it can also be influenced by acquired habits, such as thumb-sucking and tongue-thrusting. In addition, malocclusion can negatively affect the patient's chewing, pronunciation, mandibular development, and temporomandibular joint. It can even have a negative psychological impact on the patient due to appearance concerns.

Crowded teeth mean the teeth grow in different directions or do not line up properly, resulting in uneven or overlapping conditions in some areas of the teeth. This is due to an imbalance between jawbone size and teeth size (there is not enough room for the teeth to grow).

Gapped teeth refer to any gap between two teeth, most commonly a large gap between the incisors. There are many reasons for this, such as an insufficient number of teeth, or when teeth are small in relation to the jaw, a gap can occur. Genetics are also a common cause.

Buck teeth (overbite) mean that the lips cannot be closed in their natural state, the upper jaw is protruding, and the gums are exposed too much when smiling. This can be hereditary, but it can also be influenced by habits such as finger-sucking and tongue-sticking.

"Crossbite" refers to the crossbite of a part of the upper and lower row of teeth. If left untreated, it can lead to increased tooth wear, periodontal disease, and bone loss in the gum. The causes are related to genetic factors and acquired bad habits.

In an interview with The Epoch Times, Dr. Blue Tsai of Taichung Enjoy Dental Clinic in Taiwan said, "Whether it's a misalignment of teeth or a malocclusion, orthodontics is recommended. Otherwise, it will easily lead to tooth decay or periodontal disease."

As for the causes of malocclusion, Tsai said that besides congenital factors, the following reasons might also lead to the issue.
  • Breathing through the mouth: Some people, like those with chronic allergies, are accustomed to breathing through their mouths. This affects the development of the bone and teeth, leading to malocclusion.
  • Kids' thumb-sucking habits: Many children have the habit of sucking on pacifiers, fingers, or towels.  However, during the development of their bones, these behaviors can easily cause the upper jaw to protrude and affect bone development, affecting the teeth's alignment.
  • Premature loss of baby teeth: The premature loss of baby teeth will block the space for the permanent teeth to erupt as the adjacent teeth will shift into the open space, resulting in malocclusion.
According to the American Association of Orthodontists, children can be evaluated for orthodontic treatment at about age 7, when they have enough permanent teeth.

There is no age limit for adults, even those in their 60s and 70s. However, depending on the orthodontic method and treatment plan, the results and time spent may vary from case to case.

Malocclusion is not a disease, but it can cause some problems in life that require more attention.

In addition to cleaning difficulty, malocclusion can cause mouth trauma. This includes bites around the mouth, crooked teeth that abrade the inside of the mouth, and in severe cases, painful bites or jawbone soreness.

A study published in March 2017 in the Archives of Oral Biology showed that patients with severe malocclusion (those who require orthodontics plus orthognathic surgery) have a mastication deficiency.

In this study, participants were given carrots to chew and the sizes of the chewed carrot pieces were measured. It was found that the average size of the chewed carrot pieces was higher than the chewing norm (7.23 mm) in the participants with severe malocclusion, demonstrating that their bite function was indeed lower.

A 2010 study published in the medical journal The Angle Orthodontist also showed that malocclusion leads to poorer masticatory performance, especially in relation to a reduced occlusal contact area.
In addition, malocclusion can also affect digestive health. A 2002 study published in The Angle Orthodontist concluded that malocclusion negatively affects subjects' ability to process and break down foods.

Because malocclusions can have such a negative and lasting impact on facial shape and oral health, Tsai recommends getting orthodontic treatment as soon as possible.