Misalignment of the teeth is usually referred to as Malocclusion. This can also lead to oral health problems and other complications if left unattended for a long time. It is also popular by other names and synonyms. They are:
- Crowded Teeth
- Open Bite
Misalignment might hinder the natural and vital functions of your teeth, like chewing. Stay with us till the end of the article to learn more about this condition and the ways to treat it and to protect your overall digestive health and well-being.
Occlusion usually refers to the alignment of your teeth. Structurally, your teeth are usually designed to fit in your mouth space without any logistical issues like crowding and spacing concerns. Also, it is not normal to have severely or completely twisted dents.
The set of teeth in your upper jaw should ideally overlap the set of teeth in your lower jaw so that the pointy ridges of your upper molars fit into the groves of the molars in the lower jaw. Changes in the alignment of your typical occlusion are referred to as malocclusion. The types of changes might vary, but any type of misalignment is important to address.
A dental health expert is the best person to seek medical help to get your upper jaw or teeth properly aligned.
The alignment of your upper teeth is designed to prevent you from biting your cheeks and lips. You are required to consult with a dental health professional to ensure that your lower teeth are properly aligned so you can protect your tongue and cheek from damage caused by biting.
What Causes Malocclusion?
Malocclusion can also be inherited. When simply put, this also means that it can be passed down from one generation to the offspring.
There are certain conditions or habits that might change or alter the shape and structure of your jaw. These include:
- Cleft lip and palate
- Frequent use of a pacifier after you’re 3 years old
- Prolonged use of bottle feeding in early childhood
- Thumb sucking in early childhood
- Injuries that result in the misalignment of your jaw
- Tumors in your mouth or jaw
- Atypically shaped or impacted teeth
- Dental care resulting in improperly fitting dental fillings, crowns, or braces
- Airway obstruction (mouth breathing), potentially caused by allergies or by enlarged adenoids or tonsils
What Are the Symptoms of Malocclusion?
Based on the classification of this condition, the symptoms, and signs of this disorder and condition might vary from being subtle or severe. The tell-tale signs and symptoms of malocclusion might include the following:
- Improper alignment of your teeth
- Changes In the appearance of your face
- Frequent biting of your Inner cheeks or tongue
- Discomfort when chewing or biting
- Speech changes, including the development of a lisp
- Breathing through your mouth rather than your nose
Diagnosing And Classifying Malocclusions
Malocclusion of teeth is usually brought forward through routine dental check-ups. Your dental health expert is most likely to assess the teeth and their condition and also perform dental X-rays to find out if your teeth are properly aligned.
If your dental health happens to detect malocclusion, they are most likely to classify it based on its type and severity. There are three primary classes in which the cases of malocclusion can be categorized. They are:
The first category or Class 1 malocclusion when the molars in your upper jaw overlap with the molars in your lower jaw in a good position. However, the other teeth are either too crowded or positioned too far apart.
In cases with this type of malocclusion, the bite is typical and the misalignment of your teeth is not exactly severe. Class 1 malocclusion is the most common category of malocclusion.
The second category is usually the one when you happen to have a severe overbite. In cases with this category of malocclusion, the teeth in your upper jaw significantly overlap the set of teeth in your lower jaw.
Should you struggle with a Class 2 malocclusion when you have a comparatively smaller usual lower jaw, it is also referred to as retrognathism or retrognathia.
The third category of class 3 malocclusion is usually diagnosed if you seem to have a severe underbite. In this category of malocclusion, the teeth in your lower jaw usually overlap with the teeth in your upper jaw.
This category of dental occlusion is typically caused by a large lower jaw and is also known as prognathism, which when simply put means, that your lower jaw protrudes significantly forward.
How Is a Malocclusion of The Teeth Treated?
Most people struggling with cases of milder occlusion might not necessarily need any additional medical attention. However, your dental health might suggest you see an orthodontist depending on the severity of the malocclusion.
Based on your category of malocclusion, your orthodontist might recommend various treatments. These can include:
- Braces to correct the position of your teeth
- Dental appliances or retainers to realign teeth
- Removal of Teeth to correct overcrowding
- Reshaping, bonding, or capping of teeth
- Surgery to reshape or shorten your jaw
The treatment for this disorder might also lead to some other associated complications. These complications include:
- Tooth decay
- Pain or discomfort
- Irritation of your mouth from the use of appliances, such as braces
- Difficulty chewing or speaking during treatment
How Can Malocclusion Be Prevented?
Truth be told, preventing the condition can be slightly difficult mostly because the majority of the cases of malocclusion are primarily hereditary.
Having said that, it was found out the growth of your teeth and jaw can also be influenced by certain environmental factors, as suggested by a research review published in 2018.
Parents of younger children should restrict their use of pacifiers and bottles to help reduce the changes or alterations in the development of the jaw structure. Children should be encouraged to even stop sucking at their thumbs as young as possible. Again, you might also develop the symptoms of malocclusion if you have lost your teeth to a trauma or a gum disease. should that happen, you might want to consider replacing the missing teeth with dental bridges or dental implants.
Early detection of malocclusion might also help decrease the tenure of the treatment and the severity of the disorder as well as the treatment.
Can Malocclusion Affect My Overall Health?
Malocclusion, if left unattended or untreated, can easily lead to other health concerns. Besides causing dental health problems such as decayed teeth, losing teeth, or developing gum disease, malocclusion can also affect your ways of chewing your food or the way you speak. It is also known to damage the enamel of your tooth or cause an anomaly in the smooth functioning of your jaws.
Untreated cases of malocclusion can also affect your mental health, which is equally important. Researchers and experts have successfully established direct correlations between malocclusion and self-esteem. Some studies have also shown that people who struggle with malocclusion tend to avoid social situations and relationships because they feel anxious and self-conscious about their appearance.
What Causes Malocclusion?
Malocclusion can happen in several different ways:
Your teeth are too large for your jaw, causing your teeth to crowd together and affect the alignment between your upper and lower jaw.
You often sucked your thumb when you were a baby or toddler.
You lost a tooth and your remaining teeth shifted to fill that gap.
You have an inherited condition that affects your jaw, causing your teeth to be misaligned.
Does Teeth Grinding (Bruxism) Cause Malocclusion?
Some researchers believe grinding your teeth (bruxism) is a risk factor for malocclusion. Some people grind their teeth when they’re feeling stressed, anxious, or angry.
Some experts and researchers seem to believe that grinding your teeth or bruxism can lead to malocclusion. Some people have the habit of grinding their teeth when stressed, anxious, or angry. It is not necessarily voluntary though.
Can Malocclusion Cause Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMJ)?
Yes, cases of severe malocclusion are also known to lead to Temporomandibular Joint Disorders or TMJ. These are disorders that are known to have adverse effects on your joints and the surrounding muscles and ligaments.
What Can I Expect If I Have Malocclusion?
If you seem to struggle with malocclusion, it can take a significant amount of time for your teeth to realign. You might have to settle for wearing braces and then retainers for several years. The tenure or the length of time varies from person to person. There are some specific factors that affect the tenure of the treatment for malocclusion. They are:
- The severity of the problem.
- Amount of room available in the mouth.
- Distance the teeth must be moved.
- The health of the teeth, gums, and supporting bone.
- How closely instructions are followed.
How Often Should I See My Orthodontist?
Your orthodontist will possibly schedule regular appointments to check your braces, and if required, will also tighten them.
How Often Should I See My Provider for My Regular Dental Care?
It is advisable to visit your healthcare provider at regular intervals for dental health check-ups. At least every six months. These check-ups will be in addition to seeing your orthodontist for malocclusion treatment.
How Do I Take Care of Myself?
Treating malocclusion is a time-consuming procedure. You will probably need to keep wearing your braces for at least several months if not more, while your teeth are gently realigned. You might also be advised to change your personal habits to accommodate your braces and make sure that your overall dental health is not affected by your braces. It is always wiser to consult your healthcare provider about taking care of your teeth while having the braces on.
When Should I See My Healthcare Provider?
If you happen to wear braces to correct malocclusion, you should contact your provider if your braces start to hurt or are damaged.
Receiving early dental treatment for your malocclusion in your childhood can be fruitful in reducing the duration of the concerned treatment and might also lead to comparatively fewer dental expenses in the long run. However, there is no reason to believe that adults won’t get the desired results.
Adults too can get good results. Having said that, it should be understood that treatment for adults usually takes longer as compared to that of children and might also be comparatively more costly. The earlier you get your malocclusion diagnosed, the better it going to be in all possible ways.
Malocclusion is the condition where the teeth on your upper jaw and lower jaw don’t line up as they should. It can affect everything from your dental health to your mental health. When left unattended, the condition heightens the chances are you will possibly develop cavities and gum or periodontal diseases. People with malocclusion often have a hard time when it comes to their self-esteem and social anxiety. The good news is, better late than never- it is never too late to seek medical help.