There is no one, single perfect smile that works for everyone. In fact, as an El Dorado Hills orthodontist, my goal is to create a custom smile for each patient based on their unique facial features. That said, from an aesthetic, functional, and oral health perspective, there are foundational principles I follow to achieve optimal teeth and bite alignment. Let’s take a look.
A Note on Normal, or Ideal, Bite and Teeth Alignment
Before we dive in, it’s important to note that your smile doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Your teeth are part of your larger dentofacial system, which also includes your gums, tongue, lips, jaw, chewing muscles, temporomandibular joints (TMJ), sinuses, and airway.
When you move even a single tooth, it changes your bite, and it can affect the rest of your facial structures too. So, while I’ll be going over the hallmarks of a great smile and a healthy bite separately for ease of reading, in reality, they go hand in hand.
I said it once (or, actually, quite a few times), but I’ll say it again, this is why it’s important to see a certified specialist in orthodontics for any type of orthodontic care, including clear aligner treatment. It takes years of specialty training and case experience to safely and effectively shift the teeth and jaw into place to achieve YOUR ideal smile. And, as you’ll see next, it also takes serious attention to detail.
What Does an Ideal Smile Look Like?
As far as the appearance of your smile, there are a number of things I consider when creating your braces, InBrace®, or Invisalign® treatment plan. I aim to:
- Ensure the midline between your top two front teeth is centered with the middle of your face – one caveat: there are cases where shifting it slightly off center helps to make the face look more symmetrical;
- Center the lower midline (i.e., middle of your bottom front teeth) with the upper midline as much as any tooth size discrepancies will allow (read as teeth fit like a puzzle, so the pieces need to be the right size);
- Align the top teeth, so they follow the curve of the bottom lip and go from corner to corner;
- Create balance between the left and right side of the smile, the width-to-length ratio of your center teeth, and your facial features;
- Show a proper amount of your upper front teeth to be the focal point of your smile;
- Align the teeth so they’re just lightly touching one another without any overlap or gaps.
What Does an Ideal Bite Look Like?
Malocclusion, or a bad bite, is when the upper and lower teeth and jaw don’t come together properly. If not treated, it can make you more susceptible to cavities and gum disease, lead to dysfunction and discomfort, and cause the teeth to wear down prematurely.
So, in addition to designing a smile that looks amazing, I also help you achieve a strong, stable bite that supports your oral and overall health. To do that, my goal is to:
- Eliminate any gaps, crowding, protruding, or misalignment of the teeth;
- Match the teeth in both arches, so they come together comfortably and effectively;
- Ensure the top front teeth cover about ⅓ to ½ of the length of the bottom teeth;
- Shift a retruded jaw forward or a protruded jaw back (this usually requires two phases of treatment that start in childhood or, for adults, surgical intervention);
- Ensure the upper arch is slightly wider than the lower arch (again, this can sometimes require early interventional treatment);
- Encourage the top teeth to bite a tiny bit outside of the bottom teeth;
- Get the cusps of the top teeth to fit between two lower teeth;
- Encourage the lower front teeth to make gentle contact behind the upper front teeth;
- Align your bite to properly support the surrounding structures, including your chewing muscles and TMJs.
Ready to Get Your Own Ideal Smile?
At Jeffrey Kwong Orthodontics in El Dorado Hills, my team and I take digital scans of your teeth to create a 3D model of your mouth. I plan out each individual tooth’s perfect position in relation to your other teeth, jaw, and facial features. To bring your new smile to life, you can choose from a range of appliances, including clear braces, metal braces, InBrace, and Invisalign.
To get started, schedule a free consultation at Jeffrey Kwong Orthodontics today!