When it comes to orthodontics, there can be a lot of big, confusing words thrown around. We want to make sure our patients have a thorough understanding of any orthodontic issues affecting them, plus their potential treatment options.
Did your orthodontist or dentist tell you that you have malocclusion? Dr. Chew is here to explain exactly what that means.
What is a Malocclusion?
Malocclusion is a term that means your upper and lower teeth are abnormally aligned.
Your top and bottom teeth are supposed to fit together like puzzle pieces. Proper alignment allows the maximum amount of surface area to chew food. When they don’t come together as they should, it can lead to tooth damage, issues talking and breathing, and a decline in overall health.
Types of Malocclusion
There are three malocclusion classes varying in severity. Each class poses a high risk of damaging teeth and potential health risks.
Class I Malocclusion
Class one malocclusion poses the lowest risk, but should still be addressed. In this class, your molars are aligned, but the teeth toward the front are not. This could be because your teeth are rotated, overcrowded, or tilted.
Class II Malocclusion
The second class of malocclusion occurs when your top teeth have abnormal alignment. Class II malocclusion is separated into two divisions, based on the orthodontic issues you're experiencing.
Class-two-division-one malocclusion is classified by the top teeth tilting outward and creating what is known as an overjet.
Division two is classified as the top teeth overlapping the bottom ones to the point where the front bottom teeth may not be visible. This creates what is called a deep overbite.
Class III Malocclusion
Class three malocclusion is usually a result of an underdeveloped upper arch. If the lower arch develops properly, it will cause an underbite.
Examples of Malocclusion
Malocclusion comes in many different forms, and no one's teeth are exactly the same. Some examples of malocclusion are:
Overjets - An overjet is when the top front teeth protrude outward toward the lips.
Overbites - An overbite is a vertical misalignment that causes the top front teeth to overlap the bottom ones.
Deep Bites - Similar to an overbite, deep bites overlap lap the bottom teeth, but they cover up a significant portion of them. Sometimes the front bottom teeth aren’t even visible.
Underbites - Underbites are when the bottom tooth arch extends out more than the top. This results in the top teeth being behind the bottom ones when the mouth is closed.
Crossbites - You know you have a crossbite if your top teeth fit inside of the bottom ones. Unlike an underbite, this can affect any of your teeth and not just the front ones.
Open Bites - An open bite is a type of malocclusion where several of the front teeth tilt outward and don’t touch when the molars come together.
Rotated Teeth - Rotated teeth are just that. For one reason or another, they grew out in a spiral fashion instead of in a direct path.
Overcrowding - Crowded teeth are very common. When there isn’t enough room for teeth, they will push against one another until one goes behind the other.
Spacing - Each tooth should just slightly touch the ones on either side of them. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. Sometimes there is too much space between them.
What Causes Malocclusion?
There are several reasons you may have a misaligned bite. It’s often seen in patients who had prolonged habits as a toddler. These include long-term use of a bottle, pacifier, or sucking their thumb. It can also be a result of genetics or a traumatic injury that affected the way teeth develop.
How is Malocclusion Fixed?
Many orthodontic treatments exist to correct bite alignment issues. After all, this is exactly what orthodontists specialize in.
Malocclusions are most commonly fixed using orthodontic appliances such as:
Clear aligning trays
However, if the issue is caused by severe jaw misalignment, you may need other appliances or even corrective surgery.
Need Help with Your Misaligned Teeth in Fremont, CA?
If you have issues with misaligned teeth, come into Chew Dental to get started on your journey to a smile you’ll love. Protect your teeth by giving us a call or contacting us online, today!