How Do I Know if My Teeth Are Crooked or My Bite Is Misaligned?
While you can see for yourself if teeth are crooked, your dentist can determine if the problem warrants treatment. Your dentist will look for the following signs:
- Abnormal alignment of teeth
- Abnormal appearance of the face
- Difficulty or discomfort when chewing or biting
- Speech difficulties, including a lisp
Your dentist will usually refer you to an orthodontist -- a dentist who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of crooked teeth and misaligned jaws.
What Tests Can I Expect at the Orthodontist?
The orthodontist will likely take X-rays, photographs of your face, and teeth impressions to determine if and what type of treatment is needed. X-rays provide information on the position of your teeth and roots and if any teeth have yet to come through the gums. Special cephalometrics or panoramic X-rays show the relationship ofthe teeth to the jaws and the jaws to the head. Your orthodontist may also want to take regular photographs of your face to further examine the relationship between the teeth, jaws, and head. Finally, impressions may be made of your teeth. This is done by having you bite down on a soft material that later used to create an exact copy of your teeth.
How Are Crooked Teeth and Misaligned Bites Treated?
Once a diagnosis is made, your orthodontist can decide the best treatment for your teeth or misaligned bite. For some people, a removable retainer (to stabilize the new position of teeth) will be all that's needed to correct the problem. Removal of one or more teeth may be required if overcrowding is the main problem. For most people, braces are necessary to correct the problem. In rare and extreme cases, such as an extreme overbite or underbite, an operation may be necessary.