‘Misaligned’ teeth are necessary for proper tooth function and health.

My Upper Front Teeth are in Front of my Bottom Teeth. Can You Fix It?

When you say “Fix”, it implies that something is broken. As such we have to determine what is broken and then proceed to fix it. I hear this statement many times or I’m asked as a question regarding the position of the upper front teeth in relation to the lower front teeth. It is usually preceded by “my bite is all messed up…look at my front teeth!” The truth of the matter is, ‘misaligned’ teeth are necessary for proper tooth function and health.

Why we have different shaped teeth

Before we determine if the bite is “all messed up”, we have to examine the shape and function of teeth. I have touched upon this in the past, but a review is good for all of us.

Have you ever wondered why teeth have different shapes? Let’s think together and try to compare teeth to other parts of the body in an effort to answer this question. The best comparison which can be made is to our fingers. Our fingers and thumbs are different in size, shape, and position. Why is this so? The answer is very simple. It is a function of different jobs for different fingers.

Each of our fingers has its own particular function and that finger is best suited for that activity. In addition to that, the different shapes of the fingers allow each one to work in group function with the other fingers. For example, our thumb is called “opposable”. That means that is be placed opposite the fingers of the same hand to grab something. Opposable thumbs that allow fingers to hold an item are a unique feature of humans and other primates.

Different shaped teeth serve different functions

Okay, enough about fingers. Let’s get back to the teeth. If we take what we learned about fingers and apply it back to the teeth, we have our answer. Teeth have different shapes, just like fingers have different shapes because their functions are different.

We say that we chew with our teeth. This “chewing” activity is actually a complicated process. It involves grabbing the food, tearing the food, cutting it into smaller pieces. After all of this, the food is ground or “humanly pureed” to allow us to easily swallow and digest the food.

The back teeth are broad and flat as they act like little millstones in a grinding wheel. The front teeth are first in line to encounter food and must rip, tear, and slice. Just like a pair of scissors that have the blades go past each other to cut, so too, our upper teeth are slightly ahead of our lower teeth to create a scissor-like action. This slices the food into a more manageable size. Think of eating an apple. We first “bite” with our front teeth and then move the food to the back of the mouth for the “grinding” process. The sum total of all of this mastication is called chewing.

”Misaligned’ teeth are necessary for proper tooth function and health.

So now we understand that our upper front teeth must be long and narrow and work with the lower front teeth to initiate the chewing process. This is best accomplished when our upper front teeth do not meet the lower front teeth head on, but rather are slightly forward to create the scissor movement that is needed. In addition to inefficient biting, having the upper teeth meeting the lower teeth directly causes undue wear and tear on these teeth. Edges can chip and fracture as a result. You want to have your teeth slightly ‘misaligned’ – it keeps them functioning properly! That’s right! ‘Misaligned’ teeth are necessary for proper tooth function and health.

I just saw a patient yesterday that fractured her front tooth right down to the gum. This occurred because her upper front tooth was receiving all the force of her bite. Despite having a crown on her tooth, she still fractured her tooth! Since her tooth is actually slightly off in position that created this recipe for disaster. She was referred to me to remove the root and do an implant. I will st rive to place the implant in a position that will be kinder to the final result

In conclusion

So the next time that you look in the mirror and smile. Don’t put your upper teeth directly on top of your bottom teeth. That is not proper tooth alignment. If for some reason you see this, go to your dentist and ask for an opinion. If you don’t have a dentist that you see on a regular basis, please call and ask to speak to me at 440.951.7856. I will try my best to help you. Looking forward to conversing with you!

Jeffrey Gross, DDS, FAGD is an Ohio licensed general dentist and is on the staff of Case Western Reserve School of Dental Medicine.

The Healthy Smile has two convenient locations!

34586 Lakeshore Boulevard (¼ mile west of Route 91 on Lakeshore Boulevard)
Eastlake, Ohio 44095

Severance Medical Arts Building, Suite 603
5 Severance Center
Cleveland Heights, Ohio 44118

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