The teeth of your two dental arches (top and bottom) can become misaligned for various reasons. This can lead to biting and chewing difficulties as well as a host of oral health problems. Misalignment, also known as malocclusion, causes your teeth to connect incorrectly, leading to many common orthodontic conditions such as overbite and crowding.
Restoring proper alignment can not only prevent pain but can also treat numerous conditions related to your jaw, palate, teeth, and surrounding structures. Since malocclusions are the foundation of so many oral health issues, correcting them is often the first step to a healthy smile. Continue reading to learn about malocclusions and how orthodontists treat them.
Want to find out if you or your child needs braces? Visit Reese Orthodontics in Charleston, SC for leading orthodontic care.
What Causes Malocclusion?
When dental arches become misaligned, the pressures exerted on your two dental arches becomes uneven. This can eventually lead to pain, erratic speech patterns, or awkward eating habits, especially in children. However, not all malocclusions are caused by behavior or environmental changes – they can also be hereditary.
One of the main causes of malocclusions is an inherited discrepancy between your jaw and tooth sizes. If a child develops an upper or lower jaw that is too large or small in comparison to the teeth, this can result in the teeth having insufficient room to grow normally, causing crowding. Conversely, the teeth may have too much room, leading to other kinds of spacing issues.
Another possible genetic cause of malocclusions is a birth defect, such as a cleft palate, which can cause teeth to develop abnormally. Even the shape of your teeth can cause misalignment due to spacing issues or impaction, which can lead other teeth to develop slowly or in the wrong space.
Though these inherited causes of malocclusions cannot usually be prevented, other non-genetic causes can be avoided with behavioral changes or other treatment. These include:
- Long-term thumb-sucking, including using a bottle for too long, which can cause changes to the size of the palate, leading to malocclusions
- Severe injuries such as car accidents, which can cause a misaligned or fractured jaw that leads to oral development problems
- Improperly fitted dental fillings, crowns, or other appliances
- Undiagnosed jaw tumors
Types of Malocclusions
There are three main categories of malocclusions that describe how your teeth connect in relation to each other. The type of malocclusion you have changes the potential problems that arise from it as well as the treatment you will need.
- Class 1 malocclusions result in a normal bite but with the upper dental arch overlapping the lower
- Class 2 malocclusions are also called overbites, resulting from the upper arch overlapping the bottom severely enough to result in bite issues
- Class 3 malocclusions or underbites refer to the reverse, which is when the lower arch pushes too far forward, overlapping the upper teeth from below
What Are The Symptoms of Malocclusion?
The symptoms of malocclusions can depend on which class of malocclusion you have. However, the general symptoms of malocclusions include:
- Tooth misalignment, including overcrowding and gaps
- Biting and chewing difficulties
- Speaking difficulties
- Misshapen face
- Breathing through the mouth
- Tooth decay and cavities
When malocclusions are caused by inherited factors, these symptoms can often be seen in early childhood. Eating and speaking difficulties may be misdiagnosed as developmental disorders if the malocclusion isn’t confirmed, which is why it’s important to speak with an orthodontist about your child’s oral health if you suspect that their symptoms are evidence of a misalignment of their dental arches.
Even conditions such as cavities, tooth decay, and periodontal disease can be caused by malocclusions. Misaligned teeth can make it difficult to brush and floss properly, resulting in poor plaque control and an increased risk for various oral diseases. These can therefore be indirect symptoms of misaligned arches, especially in children who have not been properly educated on how to clean misaligned teeth.
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.