Did you know that crowded teeth, aside from looking crooked, can cause bite problems too? Collectively, these problems are often called a “malocclusion,” which specifically describes any issue that causes your upper and lower arches of teeth to be misaligned when you try to shut your mouth. Providers will sometimes say you have a “bite problem” instead of a malocclusion, but they’re probably referring to the same issue.
Many factors can cause malocclusions. Choosing the most effective malocclusion treatment depends on identifying the individual causes. If you suspect that you or your child may have a malocclusion, continue reading to learn about the types, causes, and potential treatments.
Want to find out if you or your child needs braces? Visit Reese Orthodontics in Charleston, SC for leading orthodontic care.
What Can Cause Malocclusion?
There are several groups of causes for malocclusions. Choosing an effective treatment first depends on identifying the cause, if possible.
The first broad category of causes includes anything that a patient inherited. Aside from genetic disorders that can directly cause misalignment, you can also inherit teeth that are too small or large compared to your jaw, which can cause gaps or crowding that result in malocclusion.
The second category of malocclusion includes causes that result from non-genetic circumstances. A common example is a thumb-sucking habit. Children who suck their thumbs too often or too long can cause changes to their palette during their crucial developing years that eventually lead to malocclusion. Additionally, missing teeth or sustaining a facial injury can lead to malocclusion by changing the amount of space available in either or both jaws for teeth to heal, grow, or move.
How are Malocclusions Classified?
Dentists and orthodontists will examine your case to determine how to classify your malocclusion. There are three classes, which refer to both the nature and severity of your bite issues. They include:
- Class 1, defined as a mild overbite (your upper teeth stick too far in front of your lower)
- Class 2, defined as a severe overbite
- Class 3, defined as an underbite (your lower teeth stick farther out than your upper teeth)
Not all professionals agree that malocclusions should be graded by severity. The functionality of the user’s bite on a case-by-case basis is therefore always examined to determine the most effective treatment.
Since “malocclusion” describes a bite issue, many patients wonder if they will ever achieve the “ideal” bite. However, it’s important to note that the standard for healthy jaw functioning is unique to each patient. The goal of modern orthodontics is to use state-of-the-art methods to determine how a malocclusion affects your bite so that treatments are always effective, never generalized.
The factors examined would include the degree of overlap for the upper or bottom teeth, the degree of rotation for certain teeth, and the position of the two arches in relation to each other when you close your mouth.
A detailed picture of these factors is a crucial piece of the puzzle that orthodontists use to determine the most effective treatment for your malocclusion.
Malocclusions Treatment Methods
The treatment of the malocclusion depends on the cause, but many treatments overlap in their effectiveness at restoring a patient’s bite to its healthiest (most functional) state. The most common treatment method uses orthodontic appliances to correct the teeth alignment issues that resulted in the malocclusion. These treatments include aligners, braces, and other appliances.
This method relies on devices that apply direct pressure to your teeth and jaws to gradually encourage movement into a healthier position. For more severe issues, chin caps and headgear could be used to hold more complex appliances in place for the duration of treatment.
The next degree of treatment involves physically altering a patient’s teeth to correct malocclusions structurally through in-office procedures. Potential treatments could involve bonding, reshaping, capping, or even extracting teeth to produce a more properly aligned bite. Not all patients will require these treatments to fix their malocclusion.
Finally, surgery on the patient’s jaw could be used to treat the most severe malocclusions. This treatment would only be used if more conservative methods are insufficient to restore a patient’s bite to its optimum functioning.
Your orthodontist will review your options with you after examining the state of alignment. One or several of these treatments could be the most effective for your situation depending on the cause and severity of your malocclusion.
Choose Reese Orthodontics
If you’re an adult who is considering braces, you need professional advice on your treatment and payment options. For orthodontic treatments in Charleston, SC, Reese Orthodontics offers the latest technology and treatment plans. Our advanced and comfortable orthodontic treatments can be customized to suit your needs. A consultation with Reese Orthodontics includes scans, a comprehensive exam, and a conversation with the orthodontist to discover which treatment options are right for you.
Schedule an appointment with us today to stay ahead of your oral health and receive the best possible treatment in your area.