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If you’ve had a great smile and a great bite ever since your adult teeth finished growing in, you may be troubled to find that your bite has started to shift. Whether you’ve noticed that your top and bottom jaws don’t line up quite the same or that your molars don’t close together as easily when you bite down, a shifting bite can be a symptom of several different problems.

Here are three reasons why your bite could be changing even without an obvious cause such as an injury.

1. Your Teeth Are Wearing Down

A high-stress job, a habit of chewing on your tongue, or an inclination to carry tension in your jaw can all help your teeth wear down faster. Increased tension in your jaw during the day can lead or contribute to tooth-grinding at night while you’re asleep. Unconscious tooth grinding can be severe and can cause your teeth to wear down faster than normal.

You can probably imagine that wearing your enamel down quickly can be bad for your teeth. If enamel is ground away faster than it can be replaced, sensitivity and decay may progress more rapidly. Also, extreme tooth grinding and clenching can even lead to chipped or cracked teeth in addition to changing your bite.

Work with your dentist to get to the bottom of any tooth grinding habits, and consult with him or her about wearing a mouth guard at night to protect the surfaces of your teeth from further deterioration. Your dentist will then be able to address the bite issue without worrying that it will keep changing after correction.

2. You’re Having Trouble With Your Jaw Hinges

Your jaw hinges, called temporomandibular joints, are another common casualty of stress. They can also malfunction even if you don’t lead a high-stress life. Injuries, tooth grinding, or conditions such as arthritis may set off a┬átemporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) as well. TMD can cause misalignment and shifting of your bite.

If you have this condition, you may also experience symptoms such as headaches, clicking sounds when you move your jaw, and pain in the joint (located right in front of your ears) while chewing. Talk to your dentist if you suspect a┬átemporomandibular joint problem. However, a misaligned bite can also cause TMD, so don’t assume this is the underlying cause.

3. Wisdom Teeth Are Pushing Your Other Teeth Around

If a wisdom tooth starts to come into your mouth and the tooth is not straight, it can push on the nearest molar and shift its position slightly. This can be enough to alter the way your top and bottom molars meet, which in some cases can make your bite less effective at chewing food.

Unfortunately, even impacted wisdom teeth (those that remain below the surface of your gums rather than entering your mouth) can exert force on your molars, which can potentially impact your bite. Wisdom teeth can also cause problems with your bone or the roots of your molars and can even cause cysts. Talk to your dentist if you think your wisdom teeth are causing you problems.

These are just three possible reasons for a shifting bite. Your bite can also change after an injury, after having teeth pulled, or for serious reasons such as advanced periodontal disease.

JP Dental and Implant Center can help you find out what’s causing your bite to shift and the best way to combat that underlying cause as well as any pain or other symptoms. Contact us today to discuss making an appointment for yourself or a family member who’s experiencing problems with a shifting bite.