Three Types of Bad Bites

Scientists estimate around 70% of people have at least a mild malocclusion, meaning some sort of crooked teeth or misaligned bite. In other words, a perfect bite and smile is the exception rather than the norm. So if you have a “bad” bite, don’t feel bad yourself. You’re in good company after all, and luckily, you live in an age where orthodontic treatment can fix just about any bite problems. shutterstock_89649682.jpg

What does an ideal bite look like? The upper teeth should overlap the lower teeth just slightly all around the U-shape of the mouth. If you don’t have that healthy bite, your bite is classified as an overbite, underbite, or crossbite:


As mentioned, a healthy smile has a slight overbite in that the upper teeth will overlap the lower teeth a little. But a bite in which the upper jaw noticeably protrudes beyond the lower jaw is an overbite, or called an overjet when the protrusion passes a certain threshold. Sometimes the overbite is caused by the way the teeth are aligned, and sometimes it’s because of an issue with the overall jaw structure. Overbites, which are a rather common type of malocclusion, can cause speech problems like lisps, difficulty eating, jaw pain, and damage to teeth which leads to tooth decay

Overbites are often corrected by using braces in conjunction with rubber bands or springs that pull the jaw into place over a period of many months. Overbite patients can also be candidates for Invisalign.


Underbites are when the lower teeth protrude beyond the upper teeth. Like with overbites, underbites can lead to jaw pain and the uneven wearing of teeth, eventually causing issues with tooth decay. Likewise, underbites cause the teeth to erode more quickly than normal. About 10% of Americans have underbites, making them not as widespread as overbites but still fairly common.

Underbites are easiest to treat when caught early. Orthodontists often use a palatal expander as a child is growing into a teenager to widen the upper jaw and help it to fit better into the lower jaw. Another device sometimes used is a type of headgear called a reverse pull face mask. In more severe cases, an oral surgeon will break the lower jaw and reset it farther back with medical hardware.


Crossbites, a more complex situation than either overbites or underbites, happen when the upper teeth on one side end up on the inside of the lower teeth when the jaw is closed. Crossbites can cause significant wear on the teeth, leading to gum disease or bone loss. Crossbites may be inherited, but they can also be caused or worsened by poor oral habits like thumbsucking.

As far as orthodontic problems go, crossbites are fairly serious and should be treated young. Often treatments can begin as young as age 7, and early treatment makes the problem easier and less expensive to correct. Various retainers and appliances are used to treat this condition.




Why is Oral Health So Important

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Here at NOVA Children’s Dentistry, we’re dental professionals, so we are just naturally aware of the importance of a healthy mouth, teeth and gums. The benefits of good oral health seem self-evident to us. But for the all the other people in the world who don’t work in orthodontics or dentistry, let us break down some reasons why we know oral health to be so important.

Good oral health:

Is worthy for its own sake

OK, this echoes what we just said about good oral health being self-evident, but we all want to live in and enjoy our healthy bodies. Health can be a great joy of life. Oral health is part of that joy.

Offers cosmetic, psychological and social benefits

People want to look their best, and a nice, healthy smile is a key component of attractiveness. By taking care of your mouth, you can avoid bad breath and rotten teeth. People with attractive smiles feel more confident. Studies have also shown attractive people may have a social advantage when interacting with others and have of advantages in their careers.

Helps you avoid pain and infections

Ever had a toothache? They hurt—a lot! And cavities and gum disease can lead to infections which compound the pain and bring oral health problems to a more severe level.

Is the start of healthy digestion

Chewing and saliva serve to physically and chemically break down the food you eat. The beginning of the digestive process happens in the mouth, and a healthy beginning here can stave off digestive disorders in the intestines and bowels.

Can help ward off diseases

Gum disease has been clinically linked to a whole host of medical conditions, many of which at first glance may seem to have nothing to do with the mouth, conditions such as heart disease and strokes. Gum disease may also make diabetes more difficult to control and cause pregnancy issues. Mouth infections foster dangerous bacteria which can affect major organs.

It’s been said that the eyes are the window to the soul. It can also be said that the mouth is the window to the body. What we mean is many that the manifestations of many diseases can be first detected in the mouth, from leukemia to diabetes, from pancreatic cancer to kidney disease.

So getting regular dental check-ups from a dentist and creating good oral health through an aligned bite are indeed important. They bring health benefits, social benefits, and even joy.


What Science Says About Braces and Self-Confidence

Do braces help children’s self-confidence? We see evidence all the time that they do. When new young patients arrive, sometimes they seem reluctant to smile because of the poor state of their teeth. On the other hand, when patients have completed their treatment, the staff here can’t help but feel enlivened by their beaming smiles when they walk out of the office.Children Self Confidence.jpg

These smiles indeed are brimming with self-confidence. And it seems intuitive that children who are confident in their smiles will tend to grow confidence in other aspects of their lives, from their relationships to their academic and career paths.

But we’re medical professionals, and we know that anecdotes and intuition do not equal scientific proof. Luckily, there have been some research studies that examine the link between orthodontic treatment and self-confidence.

The Daily Mail, a newspaper in the United Kingdom, reported that a study followed 174 kids, half of them with braces and half of them without any corrective treatment. At the beginning and at the end of the study, the kids were given questionnaires. Those who’d been in treatment felt better about themselves over all.

For those who would love the confidence gained from a beautiful smile, but may feel too shy or concerned to go through visible orthodontic treatment, Ritebite Orthodontics offers alternatives. We offer popular products like Invisalign, in addition to smaller, clear braces.

Braces, if approached with the right mindset, can be a source of confidence. If you wear braces, your braces are a message to the world that you proudly take care of yourself and are optimistic about the future. They convey that you are not afraid to put up with temporary setback in order to work for great results down the line. They say that you are your own person and that you don’t care if you look different. That’s why we love blogs and Tumblrs like Beautiful Braces Girls, Girls With Braces, and Braces Are Cool.

Whether or not there is scientific evidence that prove that braces improve self-confidence doesn’t really matter in the end. Ultimately, self-confidence comes from the inside. Braces are there to just give it a little boost.


Eight Bad Habits That Can Damage Your Teeth


Certain nervous habits like twirling your hair or tapping your fingers might annoy your friends, but they’re medically harmless. But when your habits involve your mouth, they can take a toll on your oral health by causing chipping, misalignment, and gingivitis. If you have any of the following habits, you should try to break them. If willpower doesn’t work, look into tricks, devices, or professional assistance to help. Your teeth with thank you.

  1. Chewing ice cubes
    After drinking a cool beverage, you might be tempted to chomp on the ice cubes, but this is a bad idea. Chewing on ice cubes can crack and chip your teeth. Teeth were designed for chewing pliable foods, not busting apart hard things.
  2. Biting your fingernails
    Biting your fingernails can eventually lead to chipped teeth and may push them out of position. In addition, unless your hands are washed thoroughly, you might get sick from the germs and bacteria you are ingesting.
  3. Sucking your thumb
    Thumb-sucking is a habit that typically begins in childhood can sometimes be carried into adulthood. It pushes teeth out of alignment and can alter jaw structure, while also introducing germs into the mouth leading to illness.
  4. Chewing on a pencil
    Chewing on wood pencils with metal eraser tips can lead to cracked teeth that require extensive repair. It also causes people to ingest bits of paint and wood that can cause inflammation in oral cavity tissues.
  5. Teeth grinding at night
    Most people who grind their teeth, a disorder called bruxism, do it subconsciously while sleeping. It can cause fractures in teeth, jaw pain, and headaches. If you have facial pain in the morning, ask us to create a dental guard to protect your teeth.
  6. Opening packages with teeth
    If you don’t have a pair of scissors or a knife nearby to open a package, it doesn’t mean that using your teeth is appropriate. This habit can chip tooth enamel and damage dental work.
  7. Holding items with your teeth
    Again, your teeth are not a tool. Don’t use your teeth to hold items such as bobby pins while fixing your hair or nails while hanging a picture on the wall. Even if you make an effort to bite down without much pressure, you can still cause teeth to crack or shift.
  8. Brushing hard
    If you read the package on a new toothbrush, the instructions will probably say to brush gently. Let’s emphasize gently again. Brushing hard won’t remove extra plaque or tartar (a dental cleaning is needed to do that), but it will wear down your gums and tooth enamel.



How Tooth Decay Hurts Our Economy

Have you ever had a toothache that hurts so bad that you had to miss school or work to visit to the dentist? Maybe so or maybe not, but many Americans have. When you take a bird’s-eye view and look at all the people together with dental problems, you’ll find that dental issues aren’t just about one person’s discomfort. It’s a problem that affects all of society in terms of lost hours and productivity.

Dental problems are not uncommon. In fact for children, tooth decay is considered one of the most prevalent chronic diseases. It is found in more than 25% of children aged 2-5 years and in half of kids between 12 and 15. As for adults, 92% of those aged 20-64 have had decay in their permanent teeth, according to government statistics. While most health issues disproportionately affect those with lower incomes and levels of education, interestingly Americans with higher levels of income and education have had more decay. Meanwhile, untreated decay is found more readily in populations with lower education and income.

The effects of tooth decay ripples across society. Children are estimated to miss a total of 51 million hours per year because of oral health problems. These painful problems can lead to issues with eating and talking, and more severe consequences can include infections, malnourishment, and surgeries. Oral health issues also correlate to bad grades and social difficulties.

As for adults, American workers lose 164 million hours of work because of dental issues and visits to dental providers (although some of those visits may be preventative). Like with children, adult oral health problems can lead to unhealthy eating habits and poor nutrition. Medical researchers have also found links between dental (periodontal) disease and heart disease, lung disease, stroke and diabetes. Dental disease can even affect national security. It was found that 52% of new recruits had urgent dental issues that would prevent overseas deployment.

In Canada, studies revealed similar findings. It is believed that workers lost over 40 million hours each year because of dental problems and treatment, with people experiencing oral pain missing more work. In all, productivity losses amounted to some $1 billion.

The good news about dental disease, however, is that much of it is preventable. With good dental care habits and regular visits to dentists, orthodontists and other specialists as needed, as a society we can start reclaiming lost hours and productivity lost to dental disease.

Age 7 and Orthodontics

When Dr. Rodriguez tells parents that their children should first visit an orthodontist at the age of seven, they are sometimes incredulous. “That young?” they say. “But they are still losing their baby teeth!”Age 7

Yes, your child’s mouth is still developing, and that’s sort of the point. If you wait until all of a person’s permanent teeth are in and their jaw and bite have settled into place, orthodontic adjustments will likely be more difficult and arduous. Think of it as a journey on sailboat. If you make an effort to be sure that the winds are taking you in the right direction at the beginning of the trip, you won’t have to backtrack far to get to your destination. Age 7 is a time when that journey begins, because we can start see how the adult mouth is taking shape and we can steer its development into a healthy bite and straight teeth.

That’s not to say we are likely to recommend putting braces on the teeth of a seven-year-old. When braces are necessary, their wearing can only begin after permanent teeth have come in (notwithstanding late bloomers like wisdom teeth). But the idea is to begin orthodontic monitoring in the middle of childhood when jaw bones are still at their most malleable. It can forestall serious problems in the future and make corrective treatment down the road simpler and quicker.

We can start noticing:

  • A narrow jaw – If a child’s jaw is too narrow for all the permanent teeth coming in, it will result in crowded, overlapping and crooked teeth. We can widen arches to create space for teeth to come in.
  • The number of teeth coming in – Adults will typically have 32 teeth grow in when their mouths are finished developing, but sometimes there are issues with this number. Too few teeth will cause spacing issues and too many will cause crowding. The number of teeth coming in can be determined at a young age.
  • Crooked teeth – We can start making corrections to crooked teeth at a young age to ensure even wear and improve appearance. For front teeth that stick out, full corrections have to wait until adolescence but we can start to mitigate a severe problem.
  • Bad bites – Bad bites, medically known as malocclusions, include underbites, overbites, open bites, and crossbites. Some of these problems can start being corrected with appliances early. Some are a result of bad habits that we can nip in the bud. Others will need to wait until further growth before they can be definitively fixed, but even in those cases, it’s best if we get an early head start.

As a parent, you may have been hoping to put off orthodontic work for your child until they become a teenager, and indeed braces are not likely to be needed on a seven-year-old. But a head start at a young age will likely make any orthodontic corrections take less time and progress more efficiently.

Choosing the Right Toothpaste

You’ve brushed your teeth your whole life and might still have a difficult time trying to decide the right kind of toothpaste to buy. With so many different varieties, flavors, and formulas, it’s not an easy choice.

Generally speaking, toothpaste is nothing to get too stressed about. As long as you like your toothpaste because of the taste, the foaminess, the packaging or whatever other reason and you feel encouraged to brush, that can be a good enough reason to buy it.

Good dental hygiene depends only a little on the right toothpaste. Things that are typically more important are the frequency and thoroughness of brushing, how often you floss, and regular dental visits. The particular toothpaste you choose is a relatively minor component in the grand scheme of oral health. Still, there is a dizzying array of choices in any toothpaste aisle, and this general overview should help guide you:
Cavity-Fighting Formulas
Some packages make prominent claims about fighting cavities, but brushing your teeth regularly with any toothpaste (or even none at all) will help fight cavities. It’s ultimately the act of brushing that removes plaque from your teeth. But fluoride, an active ingredient in toothpastes with cavity-fighting claims, does help fight tooth decay while strengthening teeth and protecting enamel.

If you have young children, however, you may not want them to use fluoride toothpastes. Fluoride can be harmful if swallowed, causing a cosmetic condition called fluorosis. Encourage your children to rinse and spit after brushing, and you can also find fluoride-free formulas for children. These products are often called “toddler” or “training” toothpastes.
Teeth-Whitening Toothpaste
If you’re looking for help to whiten your teeth, you may turn to toothpaste with whitening claims. Using a whitening toothpaste, though, doesn’t work nearly as well as purchasing a whitening kit or receiving treatments from your dentist. At most, they will help you fight off any new staining from occurring and some discoloration.
Antibacterial Toothpaste
If you have had issues with gingivitis, then you may want to consider an antibacterial toothpaste. They include an ingredient called triclosan that helps fight off bacterial infections. Though triclosan is generally considered effective, some professionals aren’t entirely convinced that it works all that well. Try it if you like, but ongoing problems with gingivitis should be treated under the guidance of a dental professional.

Natural Toothpastes
For those who gravitate to products with natural ingredients, you probably already know you can find natural toothpastes in most stores. These formulas favor ingredients such as aloe or peppermint oil and often leave out the fluoride…but not always. Check the label if that’s important to you. Natural toothpaste flavors also tend to be less sweet than mainstream brands.
Sensitive Teeth
Many people have teeth that are overly sensitive to hot and cold food. This condition can make consuming anything from ice cream cones to hot tea uncomfortable or even painful. Toothpastes for sensitive teeth help block the nerves that cause this discomfort.

Toothpaste is a major consumer category, and dozens of companies offer dozens of varieties. Often there is not much of a difference between all of the options, so the best toothpaste in the end is the one you just happen to like.