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Malocclusion: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment | Hawaii Family Dental

What is Malocclusion?

Malocclusion is a tooth problem accompanied by a maleficent occlusion or alignment of the teeth. It occurs when the jaw is closed, teeth are not properly aligned in the form of an overbite, underbite, or crossbite.

What causes Malocclusion?

The cause of malocclusion varies among individuals. The most common causes include thumbsucking, a jaw that is too small to house the amount or size of teeth present (often found in crossbite patients), or in folks with missing teeth as the teeth rearrange to try to fill in a missing gap.

Another common cause of tooth misalignment is smiling with one’s tongue pressed (tongue thrusting) against the top of bottom of their teeth. This is a bad habit that often develops in childhood that should be halted before malocclusion occurs shortly.

Additionally, there are other reasons linked to getting malocclusion:

  • Malformed upper and lower jaw that can result in an overbite (excessive protrusion of the upper jaw) or an underbite (lower jaw and teeth extends beyond the upper teeth due to the excessive protrusion of the lower jaw)
  • Inherited Trait
  • Early loss of baby or adult teeth
  • Improper fit of dental restorations
  • Gum disease
  • Undue pressure to on the teeth and gums
  • Injury to the jaw leading to misalignment
  • Mouth or jaw tumors
  • Thumb-sucking
  • Tongue thrusting
  • Pacifier use beyond three years old
  • Prolonged use of a baby bottle

When Does Malocclusion Develop?

Malocclusion can develop at any stage of life.

The thing to remember is that the teeth, even when they’re already long developed, can shift. This is why individuals at every age can have orthodontic treatment.

However, it should also be remembered that even after one has an orthodontic treatment, teeth can still shift, which is why patients are giving retainers post-treatment.

Sucking and pressing are two common things that cause the teeth to shift. Tongue thrusting and other malocclusion-causing habits should be avoided.

Can Malocclusion Be Corrected?

The answer is a definite yes. Both mild and major misalignment problems can be corrected; however, the worse the malocclusion, the longer the treatment.

Metal braces are typically the best and most recommended method of treatment for such. Folks with mild malocclusion may be qualified for Invisalign or other clear aligners to fix their problem. See an orthodontist for a consultation to decide which treatment is best for you and your case.

Why do I need to correct my Malocclusion?

Malocclusion can cause self-consciousness and affect an individual’s self-esteem. Aside from its aesthetic consequence, the dental problem can interfere with chewing.

It can also make basic oral care like brushing and flossing difficult and increase the risk of tooth decay, cavities, and gingivitis. It also stresses the teeth, jaws, and muscles that can lead to the breaking of a tooth.

Correcting a malocclusion realigns teeth and allows more comfortable brushing and flossing.

When the teeth are not properly aligned, it makes it difficult to get the front, and back surfaces of the teeth are often other teeth are overlapping it. Additionally, moderate to severe cases of malocclusion can make it difficult to floss.

Your best bet with any tooth misalignment problem is to get checked with an orthodontist regarding any treatments that may need to take place.

Mild cases may be fine without treatment, but more severe cases will benefit from such, particularly in how the teeth can be maintained.

Why is the proper alignment of my teeth important?

An aligned condition of your bite is vital for many reasons as it prevents a lot of problems. In fact, having a misaligned bite can cause a variety of different issues in the mouth:

Misaligned bites can cause headaches for many.

Causing strain on the jaw joints, neck, and head area caused by a misaligned bite can certainly cause frequent headaches. An aligned jaw releases this strain and pressure, thus relieving headaches.

Uneven wear of the teeth will be a result of an incorrect bite.

Teeth that are not properly lined up are likely to slip and slide against one another when eating and speaking. The friction caused by this at unnatural angles can lead to uneven wear of the teeth over the course of time. With severely worn teeth comes difficulty in proper eating and results in a visually affected smile.

Improper bites can also lead to broken or cracked teeth.

Speaking and eating with an improper bite and having the teeth scrape against one another in a way that is not normal can increase the risk of broken or cracked teeth. Dealing with these instances are not only painful, but they're also going to cost money to get professionally fixed, requiring an emergency dental appointment.

Teeth clenching is a common problem with those with an uneven bite.

When you're sleeping, clenching of the teeth is not uncommon for those with an improper tooth alignment. This alone can increase the risk of headaches, difficulty sleeping, cracked or broken teeth, general oral pain, and wearing of the teeth over time.


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