What is Malocclusion?
The term ‘malocclusion’ refers to a bite that lacks proper alignment from the front of the mouth to the back. Malocclusion is also sometimes referred to as a poor bite or uneven/ crooked teeth. Typically, the front teeth rest slightly in front of the bottom teeth. The teeth also align on each side of the mouth for an all-over even bite. A perfectly aligned bite is actually quite rare, and most people have some areas of the mouth where the teeth may not line up exactly, even those who have had treatments to align their teeth from an orthodontist.
Malocclusion is one of the most common dental problems, and in many cases, it can be strictly a cosmetic issue. Sometimes, however, malocclusion can lead to other dental problems that can seriously affect your oral health, as well as your health in general.
What Causes a Malocclusion?
The majority of cases of malocclusion are the result of an overcrowding issue. Meaning there is not enough space for the teeth to align properly, causing the teeth to shift and resulting in a misaligned bite.
The main causes of malocclusion are:
Crowding: The teeth are too large for the jaw, which results in the teeth crowding together and significantly affecting the alignment of the upper and lower jaw.
Thumb Sucking or Extended Soother Use: Sometimes malocclusion is the result of habits that children form when they are babies. As these children grow and their teeth begin to emerge, the continued practice of thumb sucking or soother use can affect the development and alignment of the teeth.
Tooth Loss: In some cases, malocclusion is the result of tooth loss. When an adult tooth is lost and not replaced, the other teeth may shift due to the increased space in the mouth.
Inherited Conditions: Malocclusion can also be caused by an inherited condition that affects the jaw, resulting in a misaligned bite.
Teeth Grinding: While there is still a need for more research on this, many dentists and oral health professionals agree that significant tooth grinding can be a risk factor for developing malocclusion.
How is Malocclusion Treated?
Braces: The most common course of treatment for malocclusion is through an orthodontist. Braces are typically used to gently pull the teeth into proper alignment. This can also help to reshape the bone that lies under the tooth socket, resulting in a permanent shift of the teeth.
Tooth Aligners: Tooth aligners are clear plastic appliances that work by gradually moving your teeth into alignment.
Tooth Extractions: If the malocclusion is the result of overcrowding, some dentists may recommend the removal of a tooth to provide more space for the other teeth.
Jaw Surgery: In some cases, malocclusion can only be remedied through jaw surgery. This type of surgery can help to align the teeth and jaw that may be affected by a hereditary condition of jaw fracture that healed improperly.
How Does Malocclusion Affect Your Oral Health?
Often malocclusion is considered to be a cosmetic issue only and does not pose a risk to one’s health. Many people seek treatment for malocclusion because they are unhappy or ashamed of the appearance of their smile.
However, if the teeth are overly crowded and there isn’t sufficient space between the surfaces of the teeth, there is an increased risk of experiencing tooth decay, gum disease, or tooth loss. In more severe cases, malocclusion can have a negative effect on your ability to eat and speak clearly. If left untreated, malocclusion can also cause damage to the enamel of the teeth and result in problems with your jaw.
Malocclusion can also affect your mental health and self-esteem. Studies have shown that there are connections between malocclusion and lower feelings of self-worth. Some people who are affected by malocclusion may avoid certain social situations or relationships due to feeling ashamed or self-conscious about the appearance of their teeth. At Stonegate Dental, we pride ourselves on helping each and every one of our clients achieve the smile of their dreams. Call our Guelph Dentists office today to find out how we can get you on the path to a perfect smile and pristine oral health!