When we’re young, our teeth arrive in an orderly fashion, moving through a common progression in which they break through our gums and enable us to chew our food at a young age. However, sometimes this process doesn’t occur correctly, resulting in a problem known as malocclusion.
Occlusion is known as the alignment of your teeth, and malocclusion, in turn, refers to the misalignment of one’s bite. This misalignment can be different from one patient to the next, ranging from a slight misalignment to a problem that requires surgery to repair.
In a normal mouth, the points of the upper molars align with the grooves of the lower molars, which means that all upper teeth should fit slightly over the lower teeth. When malocclusion occurs, there is either an overbite or an underbite that can cause problems.
While malocclusion is largely hereditary, there are environmental factors that can contribute to the problem:
– Childhood habits, such as sucking teeth or using a pacifier or bottle after the age of 3
– Poorly fitting dental fillings, crowns, or braces
– Extra teeth or missing teeth that haven’t received dental implants
Dentists can diagnose malocclusions and use three categories to do so:
– Class 1: The most common type of misalignment, a class 1 malocclusion occurs when the upper teeth slightly overlap with the lower teeth, resulting in a bite that is close to normal.
– Class 2: Also known as retrognathism, they type of malocclusion indicates a severe overbite.
– Class 3: Describes a severe underbite, called prognathism, which causes the lower teeth to overlap the upper teeth.
Malocclusion is typically treated using braces, tooth extraction, wires, or surgery. If not treated properly, malocclusion can result in pain, when eating, as well as speech problems. As with many dental maladies, a treatment that is performed sooner rather than later typically results in better outcomes for the patient.
If you have any questions about how to diagnose or treat malocclusion or if you would like to schedule a free consultation, please contact our team or make an appointment. Our incredible staff will give you the best dental care possible.
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