Health

Ask the Dentist: Three cheers for the cheerleader smile

You may think it looks a little unnatural, but we are designed to have smiles like a cheerleader, explains Lucy Stock of Gentle Dental Care in Belfast

You too can have a cheerleader smile - indeed, it's the sort of smile that we're meant to have...
Lucy Stock

COLLAPSED lungs, collapsed arches, collapsed veins. It seems like a lot of things in the body can collapse and the mouth is no different - your bite can collapse too, and the knock-on effects are startling.

I get harassed by my kids for watching car crash TV, anything not football is boring apparently. I was watching the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders show and apart from their supersonic fitness abilities, it was striking that they all sported big, broad, ear to ear smiles.

These are the natural smiles that people crave when they set out on their quest for better teeth because they perceive them as looking better and this 'look' is hardwired into us for a reason. Broad smiles not only look amazing they are actually how we are meant to be.

The skeleton wants the teeth to be sitting in a wide semicircle, as it means that our head is able to sit straight on our shoulders - with narrow smiles our head sits awkwardly, compressing our airway and distorting our muscle balance which causes pain.

I would say that the Dallas cheerleader smile is unfortunately not the norm. If we lose teeth and they are not replaced, the bite can narrow and collapse. The consequences of this are felt years later.

Imagine teeth are stacked like books on a bookshelf; remove one of the middle books and the adjacent books will tilt into the space. It's exactly the same thing that happens with teeth. If a bottom back tooth is lost then all the front teeth can move back opening spaces in the front, the upper tooth is now free to grow down way out of position.

In some cases, the bone that holds the lower front teeth in will start to overgrow up, giving the lower teeth a rat-like appearance, as they are sitting too high up.

This deepens the bite and traps in the lower jaw. This is now a collapsed bite scenario and gives headaches, toothaches and neuralgia.

Dental treatments can be done to reverse the collapse. Teeth can be guided back into their ideal location with a brace, or the teeth can be built up into a more harmonious position. This can be transformative to a patient giving them back not only their smile but also their comfort.

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