Body processes

Bite position – function, task and diseases

Bite position

The bite position provides information about the sagittal relationship between the lower and upper jaw . With a neutral bite, both jaws are in the correct relation to each other.

What is the bite position?

The human jaw consists of an upper jaw (maxilla) and a lower jaw (mandible). The jaws are part of the skull . The mandible is a U-shaped bone attached to the temporal bone by the temporomandibular joint . Part of the masticatory muscles attach to the front part of the lower jawbone . The lower jaw bone is movable through the temporomandibular joint.

The maxillary bone is the largest bone of the midface. The maxillary bone is partially hollow. The cavities within the bone are part of the paranasal sinuses and are called the maxillary sinuses. In contrast to the lower jaw, the upper jaw is immobile. The teeth are anchored in the tooth sockets of the jawbones.

Bite is the interlocking of upper and lower teeth. The bite position, in turn, is a position designation that provides information about how the two jawbones are related to each other. The physiological bite is called a neutral bite or a normal bite. The lower and upper jaws are in a normal relationship to each other and to the entire skull.

Function & task

A normal bite position is a prerequisite for a physiological chewing process. Chewing requires optimal coordination between the jawbone, chewing muscles, teeth and jaw joints. The chewing function is reflex. The movements required for the chewing process are carried out solely by the lower jaw. In the process, rapid fine-tuning is constantly being carried out by the jaw muscles.With a normal bite, the teeth only come into contact with each other when chewing, biting and swallowing . Due to the high pressure load during the chewing process, it is important that the teeth are loaded vertically.

The teeth are attached to collagen fibers in the tooth sockets of the jawbones . The pressure that acts on the tooth when chewing is converted into a tensile load on the bone. With an optimal bite position, chewing stimulates bone formation in the jawbone. Conversely, the lack of pressure in the event of a malposition can lead to bone loss.

A physiological bite position enables people to effectively chop up the food supplied and thus optimally prepare it for digestion. The teeth are not only chewing tools, but also speech tools that are involved in the formation of sounds . A normal bite allows speech without hissing, whistling, or lisp .

In addition, the dental and jaw apparatus also fulfills a social function. Healthy and straight teeth as well as a straight jaw position are perceived as beautiful and worth striving for and are seen as a social flagship. A corresponding social status is often associated with the condition and position of the teeth.

Diseases & Ailments

If the upper and lower jaws are in a pathological relationship, this is referred to as a malocclusion or an incorrect bite position. If the lower jaw is shifted backwards, a distal bite occurs. The distal bite is also known as the lower jaw reserve. Viewed from the front, the lower dental arch then lies behind the upper dental arch. The distal bite is also known as a frontal overbite or scissor bite. In the vernacular one speaks of rabbit teeth or a receding chin.The opposite of the distal bite is the so-called mesial bite. The upper incisors protrude here , resulting in a frontal overbite. Lower incisors biting in front of the upper incisors form an overbite. Tooth misalignments are classified into angle classes. Distal bites belong to class II, mesial bites to class III.

There are many causes of misaligned teeth and jaws. The anomalies are often inherited, for example in connection with a cleft lip and palate . Hormonal causes are also conceivable. Acromegaly , for example, can result in a change in the bite position. In acromegaly, the growth hormone somatotropin is increasingly produced . Among other things, there is a bony growth in the chin area.

Tooth misalignments can also be acquired. Constant finger sucking or the pacifier in infancy as well as malfunctions during the swallowing process can lead to a changed bite position. Likewise, infectious diseases or a chronic vitamin deficiency are conceivable causes of a pathological bite position.

Even small misalignments of the jawbones can cause significant impairments. The incorrect positional relationship leads to incorrect loading of the teeth, the jawbones and the masticatory muscles.

Great forces are generated when chewing. The chewing pressure in humans when crushing food is 20-30Kp/cm². With a normal bite, the pressure is evenly distributed. In the case of an overbite or overbite, this optimal pressure distribution is no longer guaranteed. Constant overuse of certain areas of the jaw can result in a locked jaw . In this case, the mouth can no longer be fully opened. Jaw lock as a result of an incorrect bite position is also conceivable. A lockjaw prevents the mouth from closing.

Facial pain, headaches and back pain can be caused by a misaligned jaw. Due to the malfunction of the jaw, the chewing and facial muscles become tense. The neck muscles are also tense. It is not uncommon for a migraine to be caused by the jaw area.

The teeth are also affected by the uneven distribution of pressure. Teeth may die prematurely or fall out. The pathological bite position may even manifest itself in digestive problems . If biting and chewing is not possible due to the misalignment, the food is not broken up properly. This can lead to gastrointestinal problems. If the mouth can no longer be closed properly due to the bite position, breathing usually takes place through the mouth. Dry mucous membranes and an increased susceptibility to infections are the result. Depending on the bite position, speech disorders can also occur.

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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.