First and foremost, what is malocclusion? Malocclusion, simply put, is the misalignment or incorrect positioning of teeth. Edward Angle, a famous figure in dentistry coined the term “malocclusion” (mal- + occlusion = “incorrect occlusion”). With malocclusion, it can be difficult for your teeth to properly serve their purpose and perform vital functions. Healthline highlights that “your teeth should fit easily within your mouth without any crowding or spacing issues.” Ideally, the upper jaw’s teeth slightly overlap the teeth of the lower jaw. Crowded teeth, crossbite, overbite, underbite, and open bite are all considered as malocclusion. Malocclusion, depending on its type and severity, is broken down into three different classes.
Class 1: In this classification, the upper teeth overlap the lower teeth
Class 2 (or retrognathism): Abnormal posterior positioning; the upper teeth severely extend over the lower teeth
Class 3 (or prognathism): In this classification, the lower teeth and jaw extend over the upper teeth and jaw, causing an underbite
So.. what exactly causes malocclusion?
Both genetics and environmental factors are responsible for malocclusion, but genetics lays the keystone in the etiology of skeletal anomalies in most cases. This means, your misaligned teeth are probably passed down to you from your parents or ancestors.
Environmental factors can also modify the shape and structure of the jaw. Healthline points out factors that typically contribute to the deviation of teeth from the ideal bite:
- use of a pacifier after the age of 3
- extended use of bottle feeding in early childhood
- thumb sucking
- injuries leading to a misaligned jaw
- mouth or jaw tumors
- cleft lip and palate
- poor dental care and oral hygiene
- abnormally misshaped or impacted teeth
What are some common signs of malocclusion?
By now, we know that crooked or protruding teeth are the most obvious sign of malocclusion. Other signs may include:
- incorrect alignment of teeth
- change in the appearance of the face
- biting of the inner cheeks or tongue on a regular basis
- uneasy chewing or biting
- problems in speech (lisp, for instance)
- breathing through the mouth instead of the nose
How is a malocclusion treated?
Every case of malocclusion is treated differently. If your teeth are overcrowded, your orthodontist may suggest removing a tooth or teeth. Some malocclusion cases may require reshaping, bonding (gluing) or capping of teeth, while others may require undergoing surgery to reshape or shorten the jaw. Among others, braces to align and correct the position of the teeth is another common treatment of malocclusion.
For a treatment to be successful, an appropriate diagnosis of the problem is essential — and that’s exactly what we do. If you have malocclusion, your Arlington Heights orthodontist will diagnose the type, determine if you need braces or not, and then choose a treatment plan for you accordingly.
What treatment options do you have?
At Orthodontic Experts in Arlington Heights, we offer multiple braces options for our patients who may have different needs and preferences. We offer traditional metal braces that are ideal for correcting crooked and crowded teeth, a misaligned bite and jaw problems. This type of braces is widespread and can be customized with colored elastics (now that is fun!).
Ceramic braces (or clear braces) are a form of the conventional orthodontic appliance for those who prefer less visible braces. This type is similar to the traditional metal braces, except the brackets in this treatment are white and in more harmony with the teeth.
Another option is lingual braces. These fit on the inside surface of your teeth and offer a great cosmetic alternative for people who want straight teeth without braces being visible. Our experienced staff at Orthodontic Experts can discuss the eligibility, pricing, and process of lingual braces with you.
If there’s an invisible way to straighten teeth, it’s aligners. Clear aligners requires the patient to wear clear, plastic trays that are custom-designed to fit their mouth. These trays or aligners are perfect for straightening crooked or crowded teeth, fixing overbites, and closing gaps between the teeth.
Want to speak with an expert? This is your chance — we offer complimentary consultations! To discuss your case of malocclusion or to find out more about metal braces, ceramic braces, lingual braces, and clear aligners, visit us at www.orthodonticexperts.com. Our customer-friendly and diverse staff speak English, Spanish, Ukrainian, Russian, Polish, Urdu and Hindi languages, so feel free to get in touch with us at (847) 749-4340.