Malocclusion is one of the most common dental problems. When you have malocclusion, your upper and lower teeth don’t align when you close your mouth. Diagnosing malocclusion to determine its severity and correcting it as early as possible is important for numerous reasons, including oral health, overall health, facial aesthetics, and self-esteem.
Overview of Malocclusion
Occlusion refers to teeth alignment and how the upper and lower teeth fit together. Typically, your upper teeth should slightly overlap with your lower teeth, with the points of the molars fitting the grooves of the opposite molar. Proper alignment of your upper teeth helps keep you from biting your cheeks and lips, while that of your lower teeth protects your tongue.
Malocclusion is the change in your typical alignment and can lead to oral health complications if left untreated, such as difficulty eating or speaking, TMJ issues, teeth grinding, tooth decay, and gum disease.
The changes in alignment vary, but they can be described as:
- Overbite: The front teeth stick out past the lower teeth.
- Underbite: The lower teeth stick out past the upper teeth.
- Open bite: The upper and lower front teeth don’t meet when you close your jaw.
- Spacing: This is when there’s too much or too little space for the teeth, resulting in crowding.
- Crossbite: The top teeth fit behind the bottom teeth.
What Causes Malocclusion?
Malocclusion is often an inherited condition, but other factors can cause misalignment issues, such as:
- Childhood habits such as thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, pacifier use beyond age 3, and prolonged use of a bottle
- Misalignment after a severe injury
- Impacted teeth
- Cleft lip and palate
- Grinding teeth
- Poor dental care resulting in improperly fitting crowns, dental fillings, or braces
- Airway obstruction (mouth breathing)
- Tumors of the mouth and jaw
What are the Symptoms of a Malocclusion
There are several common symptoms of malocclusion depending on the severity of the condition:
- Abnormal alignment of teeth
- Changes in face appearance
- Discomfort when chewing or biting
- Speech difficulties
- Breathing through mouth
Treatment for Malocclusion
Some people with mild malocclusion will not require any treatment, but if your malocclusion is moderate to severe, you may need orthodontic treatment to correct the position of your teeth and avoid potential pain, discomfort, and oral complications. Treatment for malocclusion might include:
- Braces: Braces are one of the oldest and most proven methods of treating malocclusion. Braces on your teeth will gently pull them into alignment. Their gentle, consistent tug on your teeth reshapes the underlying bone in your tooth socket, so your teeth are permanently shifted and in the correct position.
- Dental appliances: Removable orthodontic appliances such as retainers, dentures, and mouthguards are customized to fit your mouth to move your teeth into alignment. They could correct simple malocclusions.
- Clear aligners: These are clear plastic appliances that gradually move your teeth into alignment. One tray is swapped for another with a slightly different tooth placement every few weeks or so. Mild cases of malocclusion are perfectly suited for dental aligners.
- Surgical orthodontics: Performing surgery on your jaw can correct issues you inherited or fix jaw fractures that didn’t heal properly. Surgery for an extreme case is generally thought to be the last resort option for treating malocclusion, and usually, other less invasive options are considered first.
Malocclusion Treatment at Senan Orthodontic Studios
Having malocclusion can affect everything from your dental health to your mental health. Left untreated, malocclusion increases the chance of developing cavities or gum disease. People with malocclusion often struggle with self-esteem and social anxiety. Fortunately, it’s never too late for treatment.
At Senan Orthodontic Studios, we provide orthodontic realignment procedures for dental malocclusion. Our goal is to ensure each patient has the perfect smile, and we have the technology and expertise to make that happen. Dr. Ziadeh will examine you and perform diagnostic procedures like X-rays, impressions, and digital scans of the teeth and bite to determine the severity of your malocclusion, then develop a customized treatment plan that will help guide your teeth into proper alignment. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.