Cosmetic Dentistry Blog Cosmetic and General Dentistry Questions Answered

December 27, 2017

A case of collapsed bite

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Hi Dr. Hall,
I really hope you can help me.

I am not sure if my issue is related to my lips, teeth, or jaw, but I absolutely can’t stand my smile. It feels very forced to be able to show my upper teeth. When my mouth is in repose it is just empty space and you cannot see my teeth (especially my upper) and it makes me extremely self-conscious.

I also have jaw pain and wear a night guard and when I wear it my mouth feels more comfortable and I feel like it supports my lips better. It also gives an impression of upper tooth show that I would very much like. I also find I have difficulty pronouncing certain words especially when it’s cold, almost as if my jaw tightens and I can’t open it properly to speak. P and T words are especially uncomfortable.

Are my only options veneers? Do I even have any options?

It’s very frustrating for me. I can attach pictures as well if need be.
– Laura from Ontario

I’m glad you’re emailing me now, before going to a dentist to have this fixed. It’s painful to have to write back to people after a problem like yours and the dentist messed up their mouth.

This is a very difficult problem and you need to be very careful in picking a dentist to treat this for you. While I can’t tell for sure just with your description, it sounds like you may have a collapsed bite plus some other complicating TMJ issues (TMJ disorder). Veneers wouldn’t be the answer, at least not as a sole treatment. Opening your bite with crowns could solve your problem, but it would need to be done methodically by a dentist with experience in full-mouth reconstruction.

The proper way to open a bite is to do it reversibly first, with some type of provisional restoration. When that provisional is successful, then permanent restorations should be made that duplicate what was done provisionally. By successful I mean that you are out of pain, are happy with your appearance, show your upper teeth normally, and have no speech difficulties. That’s a tall order, but a dentist with adequate training should be able to do this.

It’s a small minority of dentists who have the training needed to address this type of situation. There are several training institutes in the United States that train dentists in this level of complex restorative dentistry. Those would be the L.D. Pankey Institute and the Dawson Academy in Florida, and the Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies in Nevada. There are others, but these are the best known. I don’t believe there are any such institutes in Canada.

To help cement this idea of being careful in picking a dentist to do this, you may want to visit other blog posts I wrote for patients where the dentist opened their bite and caused more problems than they started with.

I will email you privately with a dentist recommendation for you. It will involve some travel, but you need to get this done right.

– Dr. Hall

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About David A. Hall

Dr. David Hall was one of the first 40 accredited cosmetic dentists in the world. He practiced cosmetic dentistry in Iowa, and in 1990 earned his accreditation with the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. He is now president of Infinity Dental Web, a company in Mesa, Arizona that does complete Internet marketing for dentists.

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