What is Malocclusion? It is when a patient’s teeth are not aligned correctly. This type of dental imperfection is usually hereditary. Typically, this type of condition overcrowds the teeth or it forces a person to experience odd bite patterns.
The alignment of a person’s teeth is called ‘occlusion’ – it also describes the way the lower and upper teeth fit together when a person takes a bite. Preferably, the top portion of the teeth are supposed to fit over the bottom half of the teeth. The tongue is protected from the lower section of the teeth and top portion prevents the lips and cheeks from being bitten.
Common Symptoms of Malocclusion:
- Speech impairment (such as a lisp)
- Discomfort when chewing or biting food
- Breathing through the mouth (unable to close lips)
- Odd facial structure
- Abnormal teeth alignment
Common causes of malocclusion:
- Odd teeth shape
- Tooth loss
- Extra teeth
- Severe mouth injuries and jaw fractures
- Poorly fitted braces and retainers
- Poorly fitted crowns and dental fillings
- Tumors of the mouth and jaw
Another common cause of malocclusion is childhood habits, such as using the pacifier after age 3, prolonged bottle use, tongue thrusting and sucking the thumb.
There are also three classes of malocclusion:
Class 1: The top portion of the teeth cover the bottom teeth.
Class 2: Overbite (retrognathism) – the top jaw and teeth cover the bottom teeth and jaw severely.
Class 3: Under bite (prognathism) – the bottom jaw extends forward. The bottom jaw and hang over the top teeth and jaw.
A patient doesn’t have to live with malocclusion. Usually, a dentist will notice if there are any problems with the alignment of your teeth during your dental visit. He or she will exam your teeth to see if they come together properly. If something is discovered, you will be referred to an orthodontist to diagnose and treat the problem. The process includes skull or head x-rays and dental x-rays. Usually, plastic molds of your teeth will be required.