Is Midline Misalignment a Problem?

If your smile appears asymmetrical, it could be because of midline misalignment. The midline of the teeth is the line between the upper and lower front teeth. When this midline is in alignment, an imaginary line that extends up and down from the midline should bisect the face evenly. If either the upper or lower row of teeth has shifted away from the midline, however, and the midline is misaligned, the smile appears crooked or off-center. While some asymmetry is common in every human, an asymmetrical smile is often readily noticeable and could affect a person’s confidence and self-esteem. The problems caused by a misaligned midline could also go beyond the cosmetic and might signal larger concerns, gradually resulting in issues with the bite, problems with chewing, jaw pain or headaches, and cracked or chipped teeth.

To determine whether a midline misalignment is problematic, your dentist will evaluate your bite and your jaw, using a visual examination and x-rays; this evaluation may prompt a visit to the orthodontist for a consultation and treatment. Some cosmetic dental treatments can be used for mild midline misalignment, restoring the symmetry of the smile. When midline misalignment is more severe or when it’s accompanied by a problem with the bite or the structure of the jaw, orthodontic treatments are usually recommended.

There are several different types of bite problems, which are clinically known as malocclusions. Some of these malocclusions can cause a misaligned midline, along with other complications that can be addressed with orthodontic treatment. Misaligned midlines can also arise because of primary teeth being lost prematurely or because a permanent tooth is missing, which allows the permanent teeth to drift out of place. Missing teeth can cause issues that go beyond mere misalignment, though, and your dentist can discuss replacement options that will help you keep your teeth in line and protect the health of your remaining teeth, jawbone, and other oral tissues.

The teeth can also shift due to the pressures of prolonged thumb-sucking or other adverse habits, causing midline misalignment and other orthodontic concerns. Other causes for midline misalignment might include crowded teeth, teeth that are exceedingly far apart, or teeth that are unusually small or large; in short, anything that affects the spacing of the teeth can lead to midline misalignment.

A small amount of shifting in the midline might not bother you, and your dentist can monitor your oral health to make sure that midline misalignment isn’t causing or indicating larger problems. If the teeth are noticeably misaligned, however, or if midline misalignment is significant, a visit to the orthodontist may be recommended. Problems like malocclusion or crowding can cause chronic headaches and jaw pain and can interfere with a person’s ability to effectively clean their teeth and oral cavity, and treating these problems might address far more concerns than midline misalignment.

Even if you’re not bothered by the appearance of your midline misalignment, a visit to the dentist or orthodontist for evaluation and treatment could prevent complications from occurring and facilitate treatment that helps keep your mouth and teeth healthy. While midline misalignment may not be an immediate problem, effective treatment can prevent potentially dangerous problems from developing over time.

Is Misaligned Midline Normal