What is a malocclusion?

Unless you hang around with orthodontists, ‘malocclusion’ is probably not a term you are very familiar with. But the four syllable, twelve letter word isn’t as scary as it looks. In fact, the definition is really quite simple.

A malocclusion is when your teeth do not meet correctly when you bite together.. Ideally, your upper teeth should fit slightly over your lower teeth and your molars should fit in the grooves of the opposite molar. However, there are many deviations to this alignment, which are collectively known as malocclusions.

In severe cases, a malocclusion can have many negative effects on your oral health and wellbeing including excessive tooth wear, jaw joint pain, gum recession and even headaches. . So, if you have any concerns, it’s best to book a consultation with a specialist orthodontist who will examine your bite and provide the best advice for you and your smile.

What are the symptoms of a malocclusion?

Many people are born with an imperfect bite. And as such, symptoms can range from subtle to severe.

Some symptoms of a malocclusion include:

  • Abnormal alignment of teeth
  • Abnormal wear of your teeth
  • Alteration of facial structure
  • Frequent biting of the inner cheeks or tongue
  • Difficulty chewing or biting
  • Speech difficulties, including the development of a lisp
  • Breathing through your mouth, rather than your nose

What causes malocclusion?

There are a number of factors that can cause malocclusions, however the condition is usually inherited which means it is passed on from generation to generation. This cannot be prevented. There are some conditions or habits that may change the shape and structure of the jaw and increase the likelihood of malocclusion.

These include:

  • Frequent use of a dummy after the age of 3
  • Thumb sucking
  • Injuries that results in a misaligned jaw
  • Abnormally shaped or impacted teeth

What are the different types of malocclusions?

Malocclusions are typically classified into three major groups:

Class I malocclusion

Class I malocclusions occur when the upper and lower jaws are in their proper position, but  overcrowding or excessive spacing are causing issues.

Class II malocclusion

Class II malocclusions occur when the upper teeth are positioned too far ahead of the lower teeth. Depending on whether there is a vertical or horizontal protrusion, this form of malocclusion is commonly referred to as either an overbite or overjet. Almost always it is the retrusive lower jaw that is causing this type malocclusion.

Class III malocclusion

Class III malocclusions occur when the lower teeth are too far forward, often overlapping with the upper front teeth. This is commonly referred to as an underbite. A protrsive lower jaw or a retrusive upper jaw can be the cause.

How are malocclusions treated?

Some people with a mild malocclusion will not require any treatment. However, if your malocclusion is moderate to severe, your orthodontist may recommend braces to correct the position of your teeth and avoid potential pain, discomfort and oral complications.

Use our OrthoCheck tool to find a specialist orthodontist near you to assess your malocclusion and provide specialist advice to ensure the health of your smile is in the hands of an expert.

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