Malocclusion is the abnormal misalignment of the upper and lower teeth. There are many forms of malocclusion, and they are broken into three classes. With 90% of school-age children having misaligned teeth, it’s important to know the different classes, how each one affects the person, and how they can be fixed.
To start, it’s important to realize what effects malocclusion has on an individual. Most of the time, a bad bite is purely cosmetic and only affects the individual’s sense of self. However, misaligned teeth can make it very difficult to properly clean the teeth, which can lead to tooth decay. If the misalignment is severe, issues with eating, breathing, and speaking can also occur.
What Causes It?
Your smile is not a single genetic code. It is a combination of genes that can sometimes get mismatched. You may have the genetic combination of large teeth with small or jaw, or small teeth with a large jaw, leading to crowded teeth or excess spacing.
The practice of sucking on a thumb, fingers, or pacifiers for longer than 4 hours can place pressure on the teeth and gradually move them out of place.
There is also a correlation between “mouth breathers” and malocclusion. However, there is no hard evidence that explains this relationship.
When you lose a tooth, you loose structure. Having that extra space gives your teeth an excuse to start roaming around where they don’t need to be, causing a misaligned bite.
What Does it Look Like?
- Poor tooth alignment
- Altered facial appearance
- Frequent biting of the cheeks or tongue
- Discomfort while chewing
- Mouth breathing
- Trouble with speech
There are three classes of malocclusion:
Class 1: The most common type of malocclusion is typically identified as a slight overlap of upper teeth over the bottom teeth; and/or crowded teeth with excess spacing in between. These cases are typically cosmetic and do not require fixing.
Class 2: Typically classified as having an extreme overbite. The upper teeth overlap the bottom teeth. The molars typically align, however, the lower molars are positioned towards the throat drawing the chin backward.
Class 3: Often diagnosed as a severe underbite, the lower molars sit too far forward and do not align with the upper molars. This causes a jutting of the lower front teeth and a cross bite with the upper front teeth.
Typically, the most non-severe cases of malocclusion fix themselves over time. For the most part, these cases really don’t require dental work unless you are interested in a purely cosmetic fix for straighter teeth.
If your case is more severe and falls into Class 2 or 3, doctors will typically use braces to realign teeth, remove teeth in cases of crowding, or conduct surgery to reshape the jaw and teeth structure. Timing is important in these cases, so your doctor will discuss when he believes to be the best time to begin treatment/s.
If you have questions about malocclusion or believe you or someone else may show the signs of malocclusion, feel free to contact your favorite Dentists at A Beautiful Smile at Lakepoint.