Overcoming The Overbite: by Downtown Seattle Dentist

What is an Overbite?

An overbite is a bad bite, not generally painful but can cause a lot of trouble for the person who has it. It is a malocclusion, characterized by excessive protrusion of the upper jaw. In other words, the upper front teeth overlaps the lower front teeth when they come together. This is called as a vertical overbite when the lower teeth are hardly seen. On the other hand, a horizontal overbite is when the top teeth protrudes beyond the lower. An overbite is usually noticeable, but some are not so obvious and only a dentist can tell the difference.

Did you know that overbites are common in as many as 70% of children. Regardless whether they are severe cases or mld ones, every overbite has to be examined by a dental practitioner to determine if treatment is needed.

What causes an overbite?

Firstly, what causes an overbite? Overbites are often hereditary, but they may also result from a malformed jaw during fetal development. The upper jaw might have developed too large or the lower one too small. Sometimes childhood habits can cause an overbite, as in prolonged thumb-sucking or pacifier or bottle use. Tongue thrusting is another habit of the child pushing his tongue against the back of his teeth when swallowing. Constant nail-biting or chewing on hard objects can also result in an overbite.

Aside from the self-consciousness and low esteem that protruding teeth can cause you, there are other potential complications from an overbite, beyond just its aesthetic issue. There will be problems with eating, biting or chewing. Overbites can cause a lisp, a speech defect that mispronounces certain words. The condition can also strain jaw and muscles, increasing the risk of front teeth damage from trauma, or hurt the soft tissues from the bottom teeth. There’s also the possibility of cavities and gum disease.

An overbite can be treated at any age, but it is easier to treat in children as their jaws are still developing. Extraction can be a consideration, though overbites that are skeletal in nature may require surgery to reposition the jaw. Orthodontics, though, is the most common treatment for overbites. One approach is to use a functional appliance to help steer the developing jaws in the right direction. Braces are still the tools of choice to complete the treatment. While early intervention is recommended, it’s never too late to correct your overbite and improve quality of life.

Early Intervention is Key to Overbites

If you suspect your child has an overbite, act now and see us for a consultation at our office in downtown Seattle. Children are so resilient, they can easily overcome treatment challenges. Ask Dr. Jaime Lee about it.

Dealing with Impacted Third Molars in Seattle

Impacted Third Molars: When They Should Go

Impacted teeth are those teeth that fail to erupt within their expected development time. An impacted tooth is prevented from reaching its normal position in the dental arch by the soft tissue, bone, or another tooth.

Wisdom Teeth

The third molars, also commonly known as wisdom teeth, are the teeth most notorious for impaction, the most widely studied in dental literature. There are several theories that claim the rationale for third molar impaction. Why do these teeth almost always get impacted? Most accepted is the lack of space, being the last teeth to erupt in the dental arch.

Genetics also plays a role, though unpredictable. Another is the mismatch between the size of the teeth to the size of the jaw. Evolution is also cited as an influence as modern man’s diet is softer and finer than of our prehistoric ancestors, their jaws being larger and their third molars accustomed to coarse diets.

Usually erupting between the ages of 17 to 21, some third molars emerge without problems while many others get stuck. Some are partially erupted, tilted sideways. Others totally do not erupt. While an impaction can be painless, in some cases the gum tissue above an emerging tooth can be swollen and infected, causing pain.

You might feel it in the nearby tooth, or in your ear, or on that side of your face. Pericoronitis is an infection of the impacted teeth. Left unchecked, it can involve the throat or the neck. There can be difficulty opening and closing your jaw, pain while biting or chewing, a bad taste in the mouth, or bad breath.

Third molars can get cavities that lead to decay. Their very posterior location in the mouth makes it difficult for brushing and flossing adequately. If they are decayed, third molars can infect nearby teeth leading to a larger area of gum disease. The molars can become wobbly and even alter your occlusion, the way your upper and lower teeth come together.

While you can’t prevent impaction, your dentist will nonetheless advise you to stick to your oral hygiene, thus preventing the buildup of plaque. For minor irritation, pain killers can help or you can rinse with warm salt water. But should the pain be bothersome, or the tooth is already infected and is also affecting its adjacent neighbor, the best option is extraction. Procedure is not complicated and recovery time is brief.

Contact Dr. Jaime Lee at Smile Art

Consult with your Downtown Seattle dentist if your third molars are bothering you. Know more how to live with them or deal with them with our options. Dr. Jaime Lee has got special training where problematic third molars are concerned.

Children Who Have High Risk for Dental Caries

Early Childhood Caries Risk Factors

The most common chronic condition affecting children in the US from ages 2 to 5 years old is dental caries. They manifest first as white spots, small areas of demineralization under the enamel. At this stage it is reversible. But if oral conditions do not improve, those spots will become cavities destroying tooth contour. If they progress, pulp death and tooth loss can ensue. Severe cases can lead to systemic infections.

Caries in early childhood is associated with impaired growth, decreased weight and poor quality of life. There is failure to thrive. Appearance, speech, self-esteem and school performance are affected. Their permanent dentition will face higher risk as well. On top of these, repairs or pulling out of damaged teeth can be traumatic experiences for the young.

Children who are susceptible to early dental caries share the following risk factors: high levels of caries-causing bacterial colonies, frequent intake of sugar and carbohydrates-rich foods, low saliva flow rates, developmental defects in the enamel, high levels of caries in the mother, poor oral hygiene of the mother, and inappropriate bottle feeding.

There are other risk factors worth noting: insufficient access to dental care, low water fluoride levels in the community, inadequate use of fluoride toothpaste, and parent’s insufficient knowledge on oral health.

This goes to show that America’s number one chronic disease in children is a national concern that should involve multiple sectors – local communities, schools, private sector and government. Efforts like screening and other screening strategies prior to school entry can catch caries at their initial stages. Primary care clinicians, who see children routinely after they are born, are pivotal in identifying and tracking young children’s dental health.

However, two-thirds of children don’t see any dentist until they get older. Once children enter school, there are more opportunities for screening and treatment.

Fluoridation of the community’s water system is another intervention effort that is government initiated, an achievement in public health. Organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) make recommendations that become policies impacting the practise of health-givers to do screening and recommend proper fluoride use.

Screening for Dental Caries in Seattle

Know from your Downtown Seattle dentist if your child is at high risk for dental caries. Know what you can do to improve his or her chances at better oral health. Feel free to ask our Seattle dentist, Dr. Jaime Lee about it.