The condition known as buck teeth, overbite or malocclusion involves a misalignment of the teeth that can vary in severity and may have several causes, including heredity, thumb sucking in infancy and early childhood beyond age three or four, and long-term use of baby pacifiers in infants.
Impacts on Chewing and Digestion
Besides being a cosmetic issue and potential source of embarrassment, buck teeth also have health effects such as chewing deficiencies. When the upper and lower teeth fail to come together correctly while biting, chewing ability is diminished, meaning that the teeth are unable to process food in the mouth the way they are supposed to. Being the first stage in the digestive process, proper chewing is essential to efficient assimilation of food into the body. And when food is insufficiently chewed, digestive problems can occur. For example, the body may not secrete enough of the enzymes needed to fully break down food, and this could in turn lead to bloating, insufficient absorption of nutrients, and ultimately malnutrition. Other effects include choking, dehydration, and food accidentally entering the airways.
Other Issues Associated with Buck Teeth
Other problems that can result from buck teeth include speech impediments, difficulties with breathing, damage to the gums and other teeth, pain while biting or chewing, changes in facial appearance, and a greater risk of breaking the front teeth while playing or participating in sports.
Treatments for Buck Teeth
No single way to treat buck teeth is used because people vary in terms of tooth size, bite type, and jaw relationships. Conventional wire braces and retainers are most often applied to treat buck teeth and can be used with children, adolescents or adults. In this method, metal brackets and wires are fastened to the teeth and gradually adjusted to align the teeth and produce better chewing ability and a straighter smile. Alternatively, tooth extraction may be suggested if more room is needed to straighten the teeth. Other treatment approaches include palate expansion and the use of plastic tooth aligners. Contact our office to learn more about options for treating buck teeth that meet your individual needs.
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