When we think about chewing, we may not realize that we need to focus on specific teeth. Biting with the wrong teeth could both harm your teeth and potentially change how your face looks.
Ideally, the teeth that should touch when you bite are your molars. Of course, you may use your incisors and front teeth to tear food, but you should generally use your molars to do most of the heavy work. When resting, the molars should lightly touch.
Why Should I Use My Molars When Biting?
Your premolars and molars assist in grinding and mixing food (Zimmerman et al., 2020). Therefore, they are the teeth you should use when you bite or chew.
The incisors help you tear and bite food. However, you should not use your front teeth to chew food. It wrecks your teeth and potentially ruins your facial development.
Your resting oral posture is the main determinant in how your face grows. If you don’t chew hard foods, your jaw won’t have the stimulus it needs in childhood and the teenage years to grow to its full genetic potential. However, if you fix your oral posture, you can ensure that your bones grow correctly as a child and remodel quickly as an adult. This is called mewing. Adult bones remodel at a rate of 10% per year.
Many people have used this to achieve impressive facial bone transformation, such as YouTuber AstroSky:
For more info on mewing, check out our ultimate guide, before/after pictures, and scientific evidence.
The way you chew is essential to getting the best mewing results. For example, using the right teeth and chewing method will help you develop a stronger jaw and cheek hollows. If you use the wrong teeth and muscles to chew and bite, it can deter your progress.
To learn more about how to chew properly when mewing, see our guide.
What Is a Healthy Bite?
If you have a healthy bite, the top front teeth edges should be parallel to the top of the lower lip. Your front teeth should go over your bottom teeth slightly, which is called an overjet. 2-3 millimeters is a normal overjet.
If your front teeth do not align like described above, you may have a malocclusion. For example, if your upper incisors cover too much of your lower teeth, you have a deep bite.
If your overjet is more than 2-3 millimeters, then you have an overbite. It is perfectly okay for some people to have a slight overbite. However, it can be a problem if the overbite is severe.
Check out this Looks Theory episode for an analysis of malocclusions and their impact on facial aesthetics:
Will Mewing and Biting the Right Way Correct My Bite?
Mewing and biting properly may not correct your bite. It can help enhance your bite and expand your palate, which could help with teeth crowding, but it cannot fix your bite.
However, it could help avoid an overbite, underbite, etc. If you are young and correct your tongue posture, it can help prevent many dental issues, including an improper bite.
Should My Teeth Touch When I Am Not Chewing or Biting?
During your “resting” position, your molars should slightly touch. This helps support your maxilla and provides a constant upward force that stimulates forward facial growth.
It is especially true if you mew. Whether you try mewing or not, your lips should be sealed and your molars lightly in contact. Don’t grind or clench your teeth, though or let your front teeth touch. If you can’t, go to a dentist or orthodontist and have them look at your bite.
Should My Teeth Touch When I Swallow?
With proper swallowing, your tongue scoops your food and presses it against your hard palate to swallow. When you swallow the right way, your teeth should not touch. Your facial expression should not change, and your lips should not open. But your thyroid cartilage will visibly move.
When you swallow, your molars can slightly touch as per the normal resting position.
Why Do I Clench My Teeth?
While molars slightly touching is fine, teeth clenching is not allowed. Clenching your teeth or grinding your teeth can lead to jaw problems, damaged teeth, headaches, earaches, etc.
There is not always a clear cause for clenching or grinding your teeth, but some common reasons could be:
- Medicines like SSRIs (sertraline, fluoxetine, etc.)
- Anxiety and stress (can cause grinding/clenching during your sleep as well)
- Lifestyle choices (recreational drugs, smoking, caffeine, alcohol, etc.)
- Sleep disorders
Some people can wear nightguards when they sleep if they clench or grind their teeth while they sleep. Nightguards are similar to mouth guards that athletes wear.
You can get one customized to fit your mouth from a doctor or dentist, or you can buy a “boil and bite” kind that you can mold yourself. However, the ones you can mold yourself may not be as effective as a specially customized one.
However, if you suffer from serious jaw pain, chewing problems, etc., you may need to speak to a doctor or orthodontist for an effective solution.