A beautiful smile makes you feel happier and more relaxed while helping you to make a good impression in your professional and social life. Most orthodontic problems can be treated to help patients regain a harmonious smile and better aligned teeth. In addition to aesthetic discomfort, poorly positioned teeth can cause you trouble, pain and result in frequent visits to the dentist.
Teeth alignment: definition
Our teeth are made up of 8 incisors, 4 canines, 8 premolars and 12 molars, as well as 4 wisdom teeth that grow in adulthood. Teeth are hard organs made of calcium hydroxyapatite.
The first teeth appear at the age of 3 to 12 months. The incisors are the first to appear. They are called "milk teeth" because they develop while children are still feeding on milk. Then, around the age of 5 or 6, the first milk teeth fall out and give way to adult teeth.
When the permanent teeth grow, they may not grow in line. The teeth can have a spacing between each one, and it may happen that two teeth overlap, or that two teeth are offset from each other.
Apart from simple aesthetic reasons, non-aligned teeth are a source of health problems. In particular, digestion problems are linked to poor chewing of food, early wear and tear of the enamel, which causes significant sensitization, and finally the risk of sleep apnea.
Misaligned teeth: causes
The misalignment of teeth in the mouth has its origins mainly in childhood and has many causes.
Teeth overlap when there is not enough space in the jaws for the teeth to position normally.
One of the main causes of tooth overlap is the lack of spacing between the milk teeth. Indeed, permanent teeth are on average 1.5 times larger than milk teeth. The spacing between the milk teeth is therefore a natural prevention. The lack of spacing is a sign of a too small jaw. The morphology of our jaw evolves according to our lifestyle. More soft, chopped and pre-cut foods limit muscle building and jaw stimulation. The jaws are proportionally smaller when subjected to less stress. This is why the teeth overlap.
Another major cause of tooth misalignment is due to sucking. It has shown that a baby who sucks its thumb or a dummy over a too long period of time, that is to say, for more than 2 years, will have a deformation of the jaw. The thumb or dummy will press on the palate and dig into it and the teeth will face forward and create an arched shape (the space needed for the thumb or dummy). In addition, the thumb will press against the chin, which will limit the development of the lower jaw.
Teeth are spaced when there is too much room between the teeth in the jaw. This may be due to small tooth size, abnormal jaw growth, genetic problems, missing teeth or an overly advanced tongue.
Displacement between the upper and lower teeth
When the upper teeth significantly overlap the lower teeth, it is called a suppracclusion. This is due to genetics, poor oral hygiene or over development of the bone that supports the teeth.
When the lower teeth are in front of the upper teeth, it is called an underbite.
This may be due to an undergrowth of the upper jaw, overgrowth of the lower jaw, or both. It can also be caused by the absence of upper teeth.
Ectopic tooth eruption
An ectopic tooth eruption occurs when a permanent tooth erupts in an abnormal position and remains in the bone tissue in whole or in part by destabilizing the alignment of the teeth. Canines often have eruption problems.
Teeth alignment: treatments
In order to treat tooth misalignment, there are several effective treatments that are prescribed under the supervision of a dentist.
It is possible to align the teeth by fitting braces. After a thorough cleaning of the teeth, the dentist fits brackets on the surface of each tooth. The brackets are connected to each other by a wire which aims to pull each tooth into alignment.
Fitting clear aligners is an effective and invisible treatment to correct minor misalignments of the teeth. It is a transparent moulding to be placed on the teeth which will gradually apply pressure to move the location of each tooth.
Finally and even more discreet, lingual orthodontics is a dental appliance widely used by adults who wish to straighten their teeth in complete discretion. This is a system similar to dental braces except that they are placed on the inner surface of the tooth, in other words, the surface in direct contact with the tongue.