Malocclusion of the teeth is a term frequently used at our office. Ever wonder what the orthodontist or another staff member means when using this term? Malocclusion simply means the teeth are not aligned properly.
Malocclusion is most often hereditary, which means the condition is passed down through families. There may be a difference between the size of the upper and lower jaws or between jaw and tooth size, resulting in overcrowding of teeth or in abnormal bite patterns.
Other causes of malocclusion include:
- Childhood habits such as thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, pacifier use beyond age 3, and prolonged use of a bottle
- Extra teeth, lost teeth, impacted teeth, or abnormally shaped teeth
- Ill-fitting dental fillings or crowns
- Misalignment of jaw fractures after a severe injury
- Tumors of the mouth and jaw
When it comes to malocclusion there are different categories;
- Class 1 malocclusion is the most common. The bite is normal, but the upper teeth slightly overlap the lower teeth.
- Class 2 malocclusion, also called overbite, occurs when the upper jaw and teeth severely overlap the bottom jaw and teeth.
- Class 3 malocclusion, also called underbite, occurs when the lower jaw protrudes or juts forward, causing the lower jaw and teeth to overlap the upper jaw and teeth.
Some symptoms of malocclusion include;
- Abnormal alignment of teeth
- Abnormal appearance of the face
- Difficulty or discomfort when biting or chewing
- Speech difficulties (rare) including lisp
- Mouth breathing
By treating moderate or severe malocclusion, the teeth are easier to clean and there is less risk of tooth decay and periodontal diseases (gingivitis or periodontitis). Treatment eliminates strain on the teeth, jaws, and muscles, which lessens the risk of breaking a tooth and may reduce symptoms of temporomandibular joint disorders.
The goal at our office is to correct the positioning of the teeth with braces or other appliances.