What is Malocclusion?

malocclusion 300x185 What is Malocclusion?

Your teeth can be beautiful and a source of joy but they can also be a source of sadness and discouragement. It’s easy to feel like a million dollars when you’ve got perfect teeth accompanied by the perfect smile.

What isn’t easy is smiling or laughing when you have malocclusion or any other dental problem for that matter. Malocclusion is a condition where the teeth are not properly aligned. This can often result in teeth crowding, twisted or rotated teeth. The good news is that something can be done and you can correct in no time.

The average individual’s teeth in the upper jaw often slightly overlap that of the lower jaw. This is how the teeth work and key into each other. It’s the reason we don’t look like we’re clenching our jaw all of the time. But when this isn’t the case, it can cause oral-related health problems.

The more common names given to malocclusion include underbite, overbite, crowded teeth, crossbite, openbite, crooked teeth, and misaligned teeth.

Causes of Malocclusion

There are a few causes of this dental problem but the most common cause is genetic inheritance. This issue is often passed down from the parent to the offspring. Research and multiple studies have shown that about 30%-40% of all malocclusion patients inherited it from their parents.

The other causes of malocclusion include tumours located in the jaw or the mouth, prolonged bottle feeding of babies, prolonged use of the pacifier for children –particularly after they’re three-years-old, misaligned jaw, lax dental care, poorly fitted braces, crowns, or dental fillings.

There are also indications that thumb sucking causes it, although there is no significant evidence to verify that. However, it is thought that certain bad oral habits during the early formative years play a big role too.

Types and Classes of Malocclusion

There are different types and classes of malocclusion. They are classified according to their severity and cause. Class 1 is indicated by overcrowded teeth and simple tooth spacing. This is usually the most common type of malocclusion and isn’t difficult to fix.

Class 2 is indicated when the upper teeth protrude further than they normally should, giving the appearance of an overbite or retrognathism. This can be referred to as ‘buck teeth’.

Class 3 is when the lower frontal teeth protrude further than the upper teeth causing what is known as an underbite or prognathism. This is often common among people with larger jaw bones.

People with malocclusion often suffer from chewing and biting problems, have an altered face, tend to breathe through the mouth and could suffer speech impediments.

Seeking advice from a professional

While there are mild malocclusion cases that you could overlook and live with –although we recommend that you at least have it looked at by your dentist – there are those cases that can cause severe facial misalignment. Talk to your dentist about this issue for further advice.

Having your malocclusion looked at will help you accurately determine if you need surgery, in which case you may need a cosmetic dentist, maxillofacial dentists or an orthodontist. Whatever the case, your dentist will know who to refer you to.

With a successful malocclusion procedure comes straight teeth and a properly aligned jaw. There’s also less chance of tooth decay and corrosion which can be caused by the teeth becoming unevenly worn.

Also, crowded teeth aren’t good for your health. They make it difficult to clean the teeth during brushing or flossing. Therefore, there are increased chances of having food particles stuck in your teeth and decaying, resulting in halitosis and gingivitis.

People who grind their teeth of suffer what is more popularly known as TMJ (short for temporomandibular jaw syndrome) are thought to have a mild to severe case of malocclusion.

The more severe the teeth grinding and its accompanying headaches and facial pains, the higher the chances of a malocclusion. Getting treatment will help provide some relief and allow you get rid of those symptoms and habits.

Possible treatments for Malocclusion

Treating malocclusions isn’t as difficult or as expensive as you might think. Talk to your dentist about costs. But before deciding on the appropriate course of treatment, your dental specialist will investigate the possible causes and effects. They may carry out visual experiments, observe bite impressions and take some x-rays.

The most common treatment options for malocclusion however is dental braces. However, other treatment options include tooth extraction. This is usually the first step for people with overcrowded teeth. The tooth extraction is meant to help create some space in the mouth to aid the realignment process.

Sure, it might be uncomfortable or painful even, but it’s all to help you become better and on your way to having that wonderful smile that you have always craved.

Then depending on whether the patient has a crossbite, retrognathism or prognathism, the dentist or orthodontist will employ the use of orthodontic tools like the fixed multibracket braces which helps with proper teeth alignment.

They may also use removable appliances such as retainers which are useful for holding the teeth in place while the jaw realigns or grows properly, palate expanders, and headgear. If recommended these would be worn by the patient for a while as they heal and their jaw or teeth realign. If they see the need for it, the orthodontist may also recommend the use of invisible teeth aligners called Invisalign which act and function like standard dental braces but aren’t as obvious.

If you feel that you have malocclusion and need a consultation or information, get in touch with us at www.perfectteethcairns.com.au. We’ll do our best to create that perfect smile that you’ve always wanted.

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