Dental expert sets things straight about the effects of bad bite if left unchecked

MALOCCLUSION, also known as bad bite, is a dental condition whereby one’s upper teeth and lower teeth are misaligned.

A bad bite not only affects the jaw and alters the face structure, it also affects the rest of the body, causing issues such as headaches, neck strains and muscle spasms.

While bad bite only affects a certain percentage of the population, Dr Beh Wee Ren is on a mission to create better dental health awareness.

He coined the term Face Dental Concept – a chain reaction in which the structure of one’s jaw can affect the whole body, and that our bodily issues could very much stem from a bad bite.

“Face Dental Concept is about how our teeth and bite can affect our face, jawline, facial profile, whole body posture to even our general health. It’s a comprehensive functional and aesthetic transformation that goes above and beyond traditional dentistry of filling, scaling and extraction,” he explained.

What are some common causes of bad bite?

It arises either genetically which is hereditary from our genes or environment, or both. Hereditary bad bite could affect the growth of the jaw, the discrepancy of the upper and lower parts and the ratio between the arches. While we can’t control the former, we can certainly control the environment. One of the most common causes of bad bite is improper tongue resting position and habit.

Bad bites could also arise from bad habits involving the tongue or lips, sucking on objects, early loss of primary teeth, prolonged use of a pacifier, bottle feeding or injury due to trauma, among others.

What happens if misaligned teeth are not properly corrected?

A bad bite may cause an imbalance of our body posture, which may lead to persistent jaw muscle soreness, neck or shoulder pain, backache and migraine.

In adults, it may cause obstructive sleep apnea or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, sleep disturbance and even affect our general metabolism and blood pressure.

In children, it may interfere with normal growth and development, leading to physical changes such as an elongated face, droopy eyes, narrow nostrils, parted lips, narrowed upper jaw or a forward or backward bite.

What is the most effective treatment for bad bite?

Our body is very unique, and every case is different. Braces and clear aligners are among the many tools to solve bad bite. It’s very important to visit a dentist who utilises the right tools to treat the problem.

Some may resort to jaw surgery or other complicated procedures, while others may have more options. The most important thing is to find a dentist who gives you all the options available, explains them thoroughly and is able to execute them properly. If there is any doubt it is important to seek a second opinion.

Does the mewing technique really work?

The technique was invented by a British orthodontist Dr John Mew, who is now in his 90s. With his son Dr Michael Mew, they promote a form of orthodontics called ‘orthotropic’ that focuses on jaw and tongue postures.

Mewing is a part of the Face Dental Concept where we evaluate the jaw position and train our patients with tongue exercises to help with the correction of a bad bite.

In short, yes, mewing is effective if done properly and consistently. However, we need to combine multiple factors so that we may get the best values.

What is a general rule of thumb for good dental health?

1. Brush twice a day for at least two minutes each session using a soft bristle toothbrush (manual or electric), with the correct technique (more vertical movements than horizontal). Use appropriate fluoridated toothpaste with the ‘Spit don’t Rinse’ method.

2. Flossing with either standard floss or oral irrigator.

3. Use mouthwash when brushing isn’t possible, such as after a meal at work.