Put simply, malocclusion is a general term that is used to describe various misalignment issues of the teeth and jaw like overbite, underbite, and crowded teeth.
What is malocclusion?
Occlusion is the ideal alignment and overlap between your upper and lower teeth, making malocclusion the instance when your teeth do not align properly when your jaws come together. Typically, the upper teeth should fit slightly over the lower teeth with the points of your molars fitting into the grooves of the opposite molars.
What causes malocclusion?
Most often, malocclusion is hereditary but there are a number of other potential reasons as to why they teeth are misaligned:
- A difference in size between the upper and lower jaw
- Difference between the jaw and tooth size causing tooth overcrowding or abnormal bite patterns
- Birth defects such as a clef palate and a cleft lip
- Extra teeth, missing teeth, abnormal or impacted teeth
- Misalignment of the jaw after a severe injury
- Childhood habits such as thumb sucking, pacifier use beyond the age of 3, prolonged bottle use and tongue thrusting
- Ill-fitting fillings, crowns, braces, retainers or other dental appliance
Anything that deviates from typical occlusion will fall into one of three malocclusion categories:
- Class 1: Normal bite but problems with overcrowding, spacing issues and the upper teeth slightly overlapping the lower teeth
- Class 2: Also called retrognathism or overbite is when the upper jaw and teeth severely overlap the bottom jaw and teeth
- Class 3: Also called prognathism or underbite is where the lower jaw protrudes and overlaps the upper jaw and teeth
What problems are associated with malocclusion?
If your teeth are crooked or overcrowded or you suffer from an underbite or overbite, you are likely to feel some effects that come with the inability for your teeth the align properly. Many people find that this malalignment interferes with proper chewing. Their jaws, muscles and even teeth become strained which increases the risk of breaking a tooth. Maintaining good oral hygiene is more of a challenge, increasing the risk of tooth decay, cavities and gingivitis. And of course, many people feel self-conscious about their appearance if they have crooked teeth, leading to lowered self-esteem.
When to see an orthodontist
The most visible symptom of malocclusion is skew or misaligned teeth but there are some others that are a little less obvious but still need help. Things such as your child consistently biting the inside of their cheeks, if they begin developing a lisp or if they are having other issues talking or chewing then it would be recommended that you bring them into Ortho3 where one of our professionals can properly analyze the situation.
When you bring your child in, one of our orthodontists will x-ray their teeth to check for impacting and then determine the best course of action. Most commonly braces will be recommended. Braces use a combination of metal bracket and wires to resolve a number of correction and alignment concerns. These are a tried and tested solution but with advancements in orthodontic, braces are not the only treatment as most dentists today recommend the use of Invisalign.
What is Invisalign?
Invisalign is a new orthodontic that can straighten teeth without the need for braces with metal brackets or wires. These virtually invisible aligners are removable and easy to clean meaning that you can simply take them out and not be restricted when eating. They are comfortable because they are custom designed and are appropriate for adults and teens.
How does Invisalign work?
These custom-made medical grade plastic trays are designed to slip over your teeth and apply a light pressure that slowly guides your teeth into the correct position. The fact that they are clear and custom-made to fit each individual tooth, Invisalign is virtually undetectable. To be worn for 12 – 24 months depending on your needs, Invisaligners need to be in your mouth for between 20 – 22 hours per day to have the most effect.
If you or your child suffer from tooth overcrowding, underbite or overbite or any other misalignment issues, then contact Ortho3 today to book a consultation with one of our dedicated professionals. Together we will be able to create an oral solution that is custom made for your teeth and your pocket.
If you have any further questions about malocclusion, or would like to discuss malocclusion treatment options, don’t hesitate to contact us to book an appointment today.