Malocclusion is more commonly known as crowded teeth, cross bite, overbite, under bite, or open bite. It is simply the misalignment of teeth. It is a common problem seen in most people at least to some degree.
How to identify Malocclusion
Even though most people do not have perfect alignment of their teeth, for some, the misalignment causes other more noticeable problems. A dentist should be consulted if any of the following symptoms occur together with poor alignment of teeth, in order to effect a proper diagnosis and treatment of Malocclusion.
- pain arising from pressure to the jaw
- problems in speech and ability to eat
- breathing through the mouth
- difficulty in keeping the lips closed
Types of Malocclusion
In 1899, Edward Angel identified three different categories of Malocclusion:
- Class I Malocclusion : This is the more widespread type of Malocclusion. In this type, the first molars are normal. However the other teeth are affected by problems in spacing, crowding, and over/ under eruption.
- Class II Malocclusion : In this type of Malocclusion the upper molars significantly overlap the bottom teeth.
- Class III Malocclusion : This is the inverse of class II where the lower jaw protrudes more than the upper, causing the bottom front teeth to overlap the upper ones
Causes of Malocclusion
Malocclusion can either be inherited from parents or acquired through bad habits:
Inherited Malocclusion : This is mostly the case. This type of Malocclusion is evident in there being less or more teeth, or space between the teeth, than appropriate. It is caused by irregular jaw size or shape or by unusual formations like cleft palates.
Acquired Malocclusion : A major cause of acquired Malocclusion is bad habits. The bad habits that children mostly succumb to, such as thumb/ finger sucking or tongue thrusting, are causes of Malocclusion. As such, monitoring of such bad habits by the parents and controlling the same can easily prevent this type of Malocclusion occurring.
Treatment of Malocclusion
- Use of Braces
- Removal of teeth
- Reshaping, and bonding or capping teeth
Malocclusion is commonly treated by using dental braces. The constant and gently pressure provided by braces will enable teeth straightening and help push teeth back to their correct position.
Braces consist of brackets that are fixed to the teeth, and wires that connect the brackets. Since the braces cannot be removed, extra attention should be paid in keeping the teeth clean and getting rid of food particles that are likely to get stuck in the braces.
This will help in instances of overcrowding, where it would make room for the other teeth to move to the correct position.
This will treat rough or irregular teeth removing resistance in forming a proper bite.
Requirement of surgery is rare. Surgery can be used to reshape the jaw or to stabilize the jaw bone through wires, plates or screws where required.
Malocclusion can be treated in the majority of cases. Consulting a dentist early when Malocclusion is suspected can ensure the proper and effective treatment which would help in maintaining proper dental health.