What Does Ideal Teeth Alignment Look Like?

What Does Ideal Teeth Alignment Look Like?
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What Does Ideal Teeth Alignment Look Like?Clinical Content Reviewed by Dr. Jay Khorsandi, DDS
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Table of Contents

  1. Ideal Teeth Alignment
  2. Teeth or Jaw Malocclusion
  3. Tooth Alignment Options
  4. Getting Proper Dental Care
  5. FAQs
  6. References

Even if your teeth appear straight from the front, they may not align properly in certain places, which can cause some dental problems.

But how do you know if you have ideal teeth alignment or a normal bite occlusion? The best way to know is to talk to your dentist during a regular check-up, or get assessed by an aligner company.

It is normal for your adult teeth to shift over time, even if you had braces as a child, and many adults are choosing to pursue dental care to realign their smiles. Your dentist may recommend certain types of dental appliances to help you achieve ideal teeth alignment. These may depend on what type of misalignment you have and how serious the issue is.

If your teeth do not have a normal bite occlusion, you may struggle with faster build-up of plaque, worn enamel and cracking teeth, sensitivity in your gums, halitosis, and other dental health issues. Realigning your teeth can reduce these problems and help you feel better about your smile.

ideal teeth alignment

What Does Ideal Teeth Alignment Look Like?

Genetics determine the size and shape of your teeth and jaw, which can also impact how serious any misalignment or malocclusions are. Many people have teeth that are crowded or spaced. They may have a jaw that is too small for the upper palate or vice versa, or they might have an overbite or underbite.

Ideal teeth alignment should:

  • Have upper teeth slightly overlapping the lower teeth.
  • Have points of the molars fitting into the grooves of the opposite molars.
  • Be symmetrical in the upper and lower jaw lines.
  • Have top and bottom incisors that meet in a straight line.
  • Be comfortable and pain-free, with little wear and tear on specific teeth.

It is important to know that almost no one has a perfect bite from the time their adult teeth come in. Most people need orthodontic help of some type, and they often need to return to orthodontic treatment throughout their lives as their teeth shift.

Even people who seem to have perfectly straight teeth when they smile may have some misalignment that impacts their oral health. While each person’s bite is a little bit different, dentists base healthy mouths on ideal teeth alignment or a normal bite occlusion.

Misalignment can lead to shifting teeth, gum disease, worn enamel, and other dental health problems as you get older.

Malocclusions of the Teeth or Jaw

The term malocclusion is Latin for “bad bite.” There are a few types of teeth misalignment leading to a bad bite, including:

  • Spacing, or when there are spaces between your teeth.
  • Crowding, which is when teeth overlap each other and thrust each other out of line.
  • Overbites, which occur when the top teeth are too far in front of the lower teeth.
  • Underbites, which is when the bottom teeth protrude in front of the top teeth.
  • Crossbites, which is when the upper teeth sit inside the lower teeth. This can occur with the front or back teeth.
  • Open bites, which occur when the front teeth do not overlap the bottom teeth and do not meet.

There are three diagnosable types of malocclusions.

  1. Class 1: The upper teeth slightly overlap the lower teeth, but it is considered normal.
  2. Class 2: The upper jaw and teeth significantly overlap the lower jaw and teeth.
  3. Class 3: The lower jaw and teeth jut in front of the upper jaw and teeth.

When you smile, you may see one or two teeth out of alignment, but this is not a severe issue until it impacts your oral health. You can choose dental appliances like clear aligners for cosmetic reasons, to achieve ideal teeth alignment, but your dentist may also recommend them if your alignment will significantly impact your oral health or your overall health. Many people who do not have ideal teeth alignment develop headaches, jaw pain, snoring, sleep disorders, and gingivitis or other periodontal diseases more easily.

Options for Fixing Tooth Alignment Issues

About a quarter of all adults don't like smiling because of their teeth. If a crowded, painful set of teeth keeps you from expressing your emotions, you can get help. Three main options exist.

1. Braces

Your dentist affixes brackets to your teeth and then slides wires between them. The wires get shorter with each dental visit, and slowly, your teeth are pulled into their proper positions.

Braces can be costly, and the brackets can scrape and cut your tongue and lips. But this method is appropriate for people with teeth far out of alignment. It’s a time-tested method for effectively straightening your teeth.

2. Aligners

One of the most popular ways to straighten teeth is using clear aligners. Your dentist can help you fit these aligners if you have severe misalignment issues. If you have mild to moderate bite problems, mail-order aligners may be a good option for you.

These aligners are made by dental professionals based on impressions you send in, so they will help you get your smile perfect. They are often less expensive than clear aligners from your dentist, and they take less time than traditional braces.

3. Expanders

Are your teeth out of alignment because your jaw is too short or narrow? Your dentist can apply devices on the arch of your mouth, slowly nudging your jaw into a new shape and size. A device like this can give your teeth more breathing room, which could help ease alignment problems.

Expanders are sometimes used in conjunction with aligners and braces. Your teeth may not take up new positions without encouragement.

Getting Proper Dental Care Can Help You Get Ideal Teeth Alignment

Your teeth will move throughout your life. In fact, some of your teeth will start to move when you enter your 20s, and they'll keep moving based on how you use them. If you grit your teeth, chew hard foods, or opt out of dental care, they'll move even more.

You can slow or stop this process by doing the following:

  • Chewing the right way: Your teeth aren't tools. Pick up scissors and other devices instead of using your teeth.
  • Keeping them clean: Brush and floss regularly. Ask your doctor if dental rinses are right for you too.
  • Visiting a dentist regularly: See a dental professional for checkups and cleanings. Never skip your appointments.

Remember that very few people naturally have perfect smiles, and many people investigate options to keep their mouths healthy and their bites aligned. Don't be afraid to put your smile first.

Ideal Teeth Alignment FAQs

How do you know if your teeth are well aligned?

A well-aligned mouth doesn't cause you pain either at rest or while working. Your teeth aren't chipped or ground down due to uneven forces, and your tongue and cheeks are free from scratches and bite marks.

In your checkup visits with your dentist, words like malocclusion, crossbite, and open bite don't come up.

Should all teeth touch when biting down?

A healthy jaw can bite down in two ways:

  • Front teeth tap: You're taking a bite of something like a cracker. Your front and lower middle teeth touch to snap off a bite. But your lower teeth don't touch during this movement.
  • Back teeth tap: You're chewing the bite of cracker. Your front teeth no longer touch as the upper incisors slide over their lower cousins. But your back teeth touch.

Can't visualize this movement? Grab some crackers and do an experiment. If all of your teeth touch all of the time when you're biting, you're likely dealing with misalignment.

Should your teeth touch when resting?

While you're resting, your teeth should be apart. If they're touching or clenched, you could be dealing with a tooth alignment or a jaw issue.

Your jaw muscles push your mouth open and closed. If you're keeping those fibers active all the time, you're grinding those teeth together when they should be resting.


An Overview of Dental Anatomy. DentalCare from Crest. Date fetched: April 27, 2021.

How to Straighten Teeth Without Braces. Colgate. Date fetched: April 27, 2021.

How to Tell If You Have a Bad Bite. (October 2019). Pure Orthodontics. Date fetched: April 27, 2021.

Malocclusion of Teeth. (February 2020). MedlinePlus. Date fetched: April 27, 2021.

Misaligned Teeth and Jaws: Overview. (January 2020). InformedHealth.org. Date fetched: April 27, 2021.

Adult Perceptions of Different Orthodontic Appliances. (December 2019). Dove Medical Press. Date fetched: April 27, 2021.

Study Shows Many People Hate Smiling. (June 2015). Dentistry Today

Your Aging Teeth. (September 2013). Healthy Women. 

How Are Teeth Supposed to Rest? (August 2021). Orthodontics Australia.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to serve as dental or other professional health advice and is not intended to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any condition or symptom. You should consult a dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.