There are no two smiles that are exactly alike. Everyone has their own unique bone structure and tooth shape and size. However, to ensure that you have the teeth alignment that is straight enough that you will not suffer from the tooth and muscle complications that can arise from having a misaligned bite, it is important to know exactly how to examine your bite. You can determine if you have a proper bite alignment by examining your bite from three different viewpoints.
The Front View
The front view of your bite is what you see when you are facing the mirror. With a properly aligned bite:
- the edges of upper front teeth parallel to the upper lip
- at least one-half of the length of the bottom teeth should be hidden when the teeth are closed together
- the upper arch is only slightly wider that the lower arch
- the upper midline is aligned with the middle of the upper lip
If your upper teeth are too short, you will fail to show enough enamel when your smile. On the other hand, for upper teeth that are too long, an excessive amount of gum tissue may be exposed when you smile. You may have a deep bite if your lower teeth are covered too much by the upper incisors and an open bite if there is not enough overlap of the upper teeth.
The Top or Bottom View
When you examine the top of the bottom row of teeth by looking down in a mirror, all of the teeth should curve into a symmetrical arch. All of the teeth should also be touching each other, and there should be no spacing or overlapping. Even though it can be difficult for you to obtain the same view of your upper row of teeth on your own, the teeth should also curve into a symmetrical arch with no overlapping or spacing issues.
The Side View
One of the most difficult views of your bite to see properly on your own is the side view. When your bite is closed, the backs of your upper teeth should rest gently against the front of the lower front teeth, and there should be no direct contact between the edges of the upper teeth and the edges of lower incisors. You may suffer from an underbite if the edges of your upper teeth sit behind the edges of your lower incisors. If your upper teeth extend too far out in front of the lower teeth with no contact, you may have an overbite.
During a dental appointment, your dentist may examine your bite from all three viewpoints to determine where your teeth are positioned between your lips. If your dentist determines that relationships of your upper and lower teeth are not as they should be, there may be issues with the size, position or shape of your teeth and jaw that may have to be corrected with orthodontic treatment.