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What An Orthodontist in Broomfield Wants You to Know About Malocclusion

August 23, 2017

In dentistry, the term malocclusion refers to teeth that are not properly aligned. This is a common problem that can affect your appearance, speech, and ability to eat without experiencing discomfort. Fortunately, an orthodontist in Broomfield will be able to help you correct the alignment of your teeth. Here’s everything that you should know about this problem:

Causes of Malocclusion

Malocclusion is often hereditary, but there are certain environmental factors that can cause this problem as well. Children may develop malocclusion if they suck their thumb, thrust their tongues, or use pacifiers excessively. All of these behaviors can impact the positioning of a child’s teeth and cause malocclusion. Other factors that are out of your control can also lead to malocclusion, including tumors, jaw trauma, and irregularly shaped teeth. If you’ve ever had a cavity filled, it’s possible that the filling does not fit the tooth correctly, which can also cause symptoms of malocclusion.

Different Types of Malocclusion

Orthodontists classify malocclusion cases as class 1, class 2, or class 3 depending on how the upper and lower teeth come together. If you have class 1 malocclusion, it means both rows of your molars are properly positioned, but there is either too much space or not enough space in your mouth. People with class 1 malocclusion may have severe crossbites or overlapping teeth.

Class 2 malocclusion occurs when the lower molars are positioned too far back in the mouth, which pulls the chin inwards. This results in an overbite, meaning the upper teeth stick out much further than the lower teeth. Finally, class 3 malocclusion is characterized by lower molars that are positioned too far forward in the mouth. People with class 3 malocclusion will likely have severe underbites, where the lower teeth stick out further than the upper teeth. Learn more about the types of malocclusion—topic overview.

How to Spot Malocclusion

It’s fairly easy to spot the signs of malocclusion, but even if you don’t notice any of the symptoms, the dentist that you see on a regular basis should. The physical signs of malocclusion include improperly aligned teeth or an abnormal facial appearance. For example, people with class 2 malocclusion may notice that their chin is drawn inwards. People with malocclusion may also have crooked, crowded, or protruding teeth. If you believe that your teeth are not lining up correctly when you bite down, see an orthodontist to determine if you have malocclusion.

You may also notice that it is difficult to eat or chew without experiencing discomfort. Some people that have this problem can start to develop a lisp, but this is rare. If malocclusion is left untreated, it’s possible that you will start to experience headaches and temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ).

Diagnosing Malocclusion

Most patients who are having dental issues schedule an appointment with a dentist before seeing an orthodontist. The dentist will typically discover malocclusion while performing a routine examination. During the examination, the dentist should pull your cheek out to get a closer look at the alignment of your teeth when you bite down. At this point, he should be able to tell that your teeth are not properly aligned. However, he may need to take X-rays to confirm his suspicions. The dentist will then refer you to an orthodontist who is qualified to treat this dental problem.  

How to Treat Malocclusion

It’s estimated that two out of three adults are born with malocclusion, although some cases are more severe than others. Therefore, there’s no need to panic if your dentist suggests that you see an orthodontist in order to treat malocclusion. In fact, malocclusion is the most common reason why dentists send their patients to orthodontists.

Some cases of malocclusion are so minor that they do not require treatment. An orthodontist will be able to tell you if you need treatment to correct this problem. Some of the most common types of treatment are:
  • Tooth Removal: The orthodontist may suggest removing one or more teeth if the malocclusion is caused by overcrowding.
  • Adjusting the Shape of Teeth: Teeth that are irregularly shaped may need to be reshaped by an orthodontist. This often involves capping the original tooth with a mold of a regularly shaped tooth.
  • Braces: The most common type of treatment for malocclusion is braces, which are used to adjust the alignment of the teeth. Braces are typically worn for 18 months to two years. You will be required to wear a retainer after the braces are removed in order to complete the treatment.
  • Surgery: Surgery is looked at as a last resort when no other treatment options will work for the patient. In these rare cases, surgery will be performed to reshape the jaw.

These treatment options are very different in nature, but they all share common goals. The goals of each of these treatment options is to correct the positioning of the teeth, alleviate pain and discomfort, and make it easier for the patient to clean his or her teeth.

When to Seek Treatment

It’s never too late to seek treatment for malocclusion, but it’s always best to visit an orthodontist and begin treatment as soon as you become aware of the problem. The earlier on in your life that you treat malocclusion, the easier it is to correct the issue. This is why orthodontists strongly recommend correcting teeth alignment issues during childhood when the jaw has not fully developed. But, there’s nothing to fear if you weren’t treated for malocclusion during your childhood. Orthodontists are skilled dental professionals who are trained to correct these issues regardless of whether the patient is a child or an adult.

If your teeth aren’t properly aligned, get in touch with an orthodontist as soon as possible. At Prentice Orthodontics, our goal is to serve your needs, improve your health, and make you smile! We have a highly trained and friendly staff that is eager to welcome you into our offices and assist you with your dental needs. Call 303-468-7722 for a free consultation or contact us using the form on our website today!