Many people assume that an uneven bite means a crooked or misshapen smile, teeth that are visibly out of alignment, or an evident underbite or overbite that makes someone look more like they’re smirking than smiling. However, an uneven bite can result in much more than just cosmetic issues. Failure to treat your misaligned bite can lead to pain and discomfort accompanied by a higher risk of decay and tooth loss.
Don’t know how to tell if your bite is uneven? Keep on reading to discover the seven most common signs you should look out for.
The clearest indication of an uneven bite is your appearance. Teeth that are twisted, overcrowded, or otherwise misshapen are the most obvious evidence. However, there are other visual clues, such as how your teeth line up with your face's midline, particularly when you smile. If you can't notice these signs, your dental specialist is trained to recognize even the tiniest flaws that can lead to major concerns in the future.
2. Persistent head pain
If you experience recurrent headaches, your uneven bite may be the cause. Your teeth and jaw won't be able to "function" the way they should if your bite is misaligned. This means that the muscles in your jaw might become strained over time, resulting in chronic head pain.
3. Teeth grinding and clenching
Another sign that your bite is uneven is if you find yourself grinding or clenching your teeth when sleeping or if your significant other says you sound like a concrete mixer at night.
Similar to TMJ and head pain, teeth grinding and clenching develop because your teeth are attempting to achieve the symmetry that they lack. When your bite is uneven, your jaw muscles try to compensate by causing you to clench and grind your teeth.
4. TMJ and jaw pain
Another sign that your bite is uneven is if you experience pain or discomfort when you bite down hard or chew repeatedly or if you hear a clicking sound in your ear while chewing. During everyday activities like chewing and speaking, an uneven bite can result in sprained jaw muscles.
TMJ disorder can stem from this unevenness in some cases. The temporomandibular joints assist in the correct alignment of your lower and upper jaws, allowing you to chew and speak without pain or discomfort. When your teeth are out of alignment, your joints have to work twice as hard to get them back into place. This is what produces the pain and clicking that comes with chewing, talking, and yawning.
5. Loose or damaged dental work
When your teeth are aligned incorrectly, daily movements linked to chewing and talking can ultimately result in loose caps, dental fillings, and crowns. Because of this, decay-causing bacteria can accumulate in the teeth that you think are protected by dental work.
When your crowns, fillings, and caps develop tiny cracks or fissures and become loose due to misaligned tooth surfaces clashing together, you’re running an increased risk of tooth decay and even tooth loss.
6. Sensitive teeth and uneven wear
The pressure stemming from misaligned bite not only can lead to damaged dental work, but it can also cause warn spots on the surfaces of your teeth. The protective layer of your teeth starts to wear away a lot faster in those spots, eventually leading to sensitivity. Enamel erosion can also increase your risk of developing tooth decay and associated dental problems.
7. Sore tongue
Your tongue is a good indicator of an uneven bite. If your bite is misaligned, you’re running the risk of cutting or nicking the sides of your tongue. This may result in the formation of open sores that are susceptible to infection.
The bottom line
If you have some of the aforementioned symptoms of an uneven bite, don’t ignore them and schedule an appointment with an experienced dental specialist. Your dentist will indicate other, more subtle signs during the checkup. Depending on the alignment of your teeth, a specialist may recommend different types of bite adjustment options. These may include Invisalign aligners, traditional braces, or even tooth extraction. Remember that the quicker you reach out to a specialist, the lower your risk of undergoing invasive treatment will be.