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Midline Misalignment: What Causes it and How is it Corrected?

By October 9, 2023Orthodontics
Midline Misalignment

At Richard Chan Orthodontics, we’re all about helping patients achieve beautiful, functional smiles. One thing we look to correct? Midline misalignment. Midline what now?!? Let’s explain. 

Your dental midline is the vertical line between your upper front and lower front teeth and should align with the middle of your face. When this vertical line is off-center, you get midline misalignment. It’s an issue that’s more than cosmetic, it can contribute to your back bite not fitting together properly, in turn leading to issues with teeth grinding or chewing. Or it can cause uneven wear on teeth that can contribute to cavities or tooth damage. In short, midline misalignment can be a functional or oral health problem, not just an esthetic concern.


So What Causes Midline Shift In Teeth?

The causes of asymmetrical midline teeth vary. Here, Dr. Chan spells out the most common ones.

  1. Early Loss of Baby Teeth

Sometimes kids lose their baby teeth prematurely — maybe from tooth decay or dental trauma. When a gap is left and isn’t filled soon with an erupting adult tooth, teeth naturally want to shift and fill the space. This shifting can lead to the midline baby teeth — and later adult teeth — drifting off-center.

  1. Missing Adult Teeth

Speaking of adult teeth, missing adult teeth is another reason for what causes midline shift in teeth. Perhaps you’ve experienced losing adult teeth because of things like gum disease, tooth decay, or injury. Missing adult teeth can also be genetic. In any case, missing adult teeth leave spaces that remaining teeth move to fill, sometimes contributing to midline shift.

  1. Crowded Teeth

Dr. Chan and his team come across crowded teeth quite regularly. But how do crowded teeth affect midline teeth alignment? Well, when teeth grow too close together or shift into tight positions, this can push your midline teeth off-center or even overlap them.

  1. Jaw Misalignment

When it comes to your jaws and midline alignment, jaw misalignment like a crossbite, open bite, or underbite can prevent proper stacking of your top and bottom arches. Consequently, this can put your dental midline off-center. 

  1. Prolonged Infant Oral Habits

Prolonged infant habits like thumbsucking, pacifier use, or tongue thrust can be detrimental to a child’s oral development. If a 3- or 4-year-old child is still sucking their thumb or pacifier, or is habitually pushing at their upper front teeth with their tongue, these can put pressure on growing dental arches. The result? Protruding front teeth or misaligned dental arches which affect the dental midline.


How To Fix Off Center Midline Teeth

Now we come to some super important info: how to move the midline of teeth back to center. This is where your Bothell, Monroe, Mill Creek, WA and Juneau, AK orthodontist comes in! As a certified specialist in orthodontics, Dr. Richard Chan is an expert in modern orthodontic techniques with the goal of symmetrical, healthy, and stellar smiles. 

Braces: Together with Dr. Chan, you’ll decide which braces work best for your orthodontic issues, your lifestyle, and your budget. Whether you choose modern metal braces, clear ceramic braces, or self ligating braces, braces are a trusted go-to, especially for dental midline issues from jaw misalignment.

Invisalign: Clear aligners are appealing if you’re looking for a discreet and convenient option to fix minor midline misalignment. Here’s a few things to know about Invisalign if you’re interested!

Maxillary Expander: A palatal expander can be used on its own or prior to braces or Invisalign. An expander opens your upper dental arch to alleviate crowding, in turn helping with dental midline alignment.

Extractions: Removing teeth to fix midline misalignment is sometimes suggested if the cause is structural with the face or jaw. Dr. Chan typically suggests non-invasive treatments like braces, Invisalign or an expander though, with extractions for midline misalignment as a last option. Or he might suggest tooth extraction in combination with orthodontic treatment.


Getting A Symmetrical Smile In The Seattle-Area

Ready to address your midline misalignment? An award-winning team, Richard Chan Orthodontics can help — with state-of-the-art equipment and modern techniques that result in more comfortable and efficient orthodontics. 

Contact your trusted Seattle orthodontist. With offices in Bothell, Mill Creek, and Monroe, WA or Juneau, AK, it’s easy to get started on a symmetrical smile that looks and functions how you’ve always wanted.

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