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My Bite is Off

Having a misaligned jaw is often much more than a problem that is merely cosmetic - while the way it looks is often what those who have one notice most about it, they may not realize the other effects it can have on one's life and conduct. Fortunately, treatment is now more affordable and accessible than ever, allowing one to improve the problem and ease the discomfort it brings with it.

When a person has been living with an improperly aligned jaw their entire life, they may not notice the ways in which it may be impacting the jaw's normal function. Activities such as eating, breathing, and speaking may be impeded, as the teeth are incorrectly positioned for the tasks; this makes the teeth less able to hold onto and control the food it chews and impedes the ability of the tongue to form the sounds of certain consonants properly, leading to errors in enunciation and some cases other speech-related difficulties such as the development of a lisp. Mouth-breathing can often result from a poorly-aligner jaw, bringing with it a whole host of secondary conditions. Bruxism, or nocturnal grinding and clenching of the teeth and jaws while sleeping, can also come as a result of a maligned jaw, as the improper placement prevents the teeth from having a comfortable place to rest against one another. This unconscious habit can intensify unrelated jaw pain and sensitivity already present as a result, as the teeth push up against each other unnaturally and gradually cause their positions to shift. Malocclusion can cause teeth to become crowded or crossed, and the further they get from their original, natural formation, the less able they are to perform effectively.

While it is entirely possible to live a healthy, productive life with a jaw in misalignment, there is no reason to struggle with the problem both physically and emotionally when there are so many ways to solve it. Braces are the traditionally prescribed means of drawing the jaw into its natural and most effective position - brackets are attached to the teeth and a stiff wire is used to gradually pull them into place; in more severe cases, the use of headgear may be necessary. Invisalign has proven to be just as effective in cases where headgear is not required, often bringing about results in a marginally shorter interval of time. An upper jaw expander may be helpful in some cases, allowing your orthodontist to make room across the roof of the mouth where none existed before. In extreme cases, more invasive surgical procedures may be necessary to achieve the desired results, but is generally only seen as a last resort when all else fails. Wearing a mouth guard in conjuncture with any of these methods of correction will not only aid in fixing the original problem, but also serve to relieve some of the discomfort associated with the condition. While cosmetic dentistry can improve the look of a misaligned jaw, rarely can it solve the problem entirely, acting merely as a means of enhancing the outer appearance.

Signs of a misaligned jaw can vary, but there are several definitive indicators that you can look out for. In a normal set of teeth, the tips of each should line up evenly with those above or those below; any discrepancies between teeth that should be in line with one another are positive signs that there may be something amiss. Teeth that don't close all the way when the jawbones are brought together are also abnormal - there should be no open spaces when the mouth is shut. If you feel unsure after making your own observations, your dentist will be able to diagnose whether or not your jaw in in proper alignment conclusively.

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