Do You Have Malocclusion?
Malocclusion is a misalignment of the teeth problem that can lead to serious oral health complications. Malocclusion can mean crowded teeth, crossbite, overbite, underbite or open bite. These issues can prohibit your teeth from performing vital functions and seriously affect your overall oral and digestive health.
The deviation types for malocclusion vary, but any misalignment among your teeth, any crowding or space issues, can cause issues. You need your upper teeth to be aligned in order to prevent the cheeks and lips from being bitten. Alignment of the lower teeth is important to protect your tongue from being bitten.
Causes of Malocclusion
Malocclusion is usually inherited, but there are some conditions or habits that can change the shape and structure of the jaw, such as:
- Cleft lip and palate
- Prolonged use of bottle feeding in early childhood and overuse of dummy after age 3
- Thumb sucking
- Injuries that misalign the jaw
- Tumours in mouth or jaw
- Poor dental care
- Airway obstruction
- Abnormally shaped or impacted teeth
Symptoms of Malocclusion
The symptoms vary depending on the type of malocclusion you have. They can be subtle or severe, but typical symptoms are:
- Mouth breathing
- Speech problems or a lisp
- Alteration in appearance of face
- Improper teeth alignment
- Frequent biting inner cheeks and tongue
- Uncomfortable chewing or biting
To classify which type of malocclusion you have, your dentist will need to take x-rays. There are three classes:
- Class 1: Upper teeth overlap lower teeth. Bite is normal, overlap is slight. Most common.
- Class 2: Severe overbite, known as retrognathism. Upper teeth and jaw significantly overlap lower jaw and teeth.
- Class 3: Severe underbite, known as prognathism. Lower jaw protrudes forward. Lower teeth overlap upper teeth and jaw.
Your dentist will examine you and help to come up with a treatment plan to correct these problems so that you no longer suffer from the symptoms. The treatment can involve a number of options, including fitting you with braces to correct the position of your teeth; tooth extractions to correct any overcrowding; reshaping, bonding or capping of teeth; wires or plates to stabilise the jawbone; or even surgery to reshape or shorten the jaw.
Can You Prevent Malocclusion?
It is difficult to prevent this disorder because most cases are hereditary. However, parents can limit dummy and bottle use in young children, as this will help to reduce changes in their jaw development. Early correction of lip and tongue tie will also help with good dental and jaw development. If you detect malocclusion early and act on it, you may be able the limit the length and severity of the treatment needed to correct the disorder.