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Your Thornton Orthodontist Tells You What Malocclusion Means for Your Oral Health


April 11, 2018

If you have crooked or misaligned teeth, you might feel self-conscious about showing your smile. But did you know that aesthetics are not the only problem with a smile that is not even and straight? Your Thornton orthodontist wants you to know that it can also impact your oral health. Teeth that are crowded, crooked, or otherwise misaligned are harder to take clean, which might mean you are more prone to tooth decay and other oral health problems. If your teeth are not properly aligned, which is also referred to as “malocclusion,” this can affect much more than your self-confidence.

Let’s take a look at everything you never knew about malocclusion—but should know!

What Is Malocclusion?

A malocclusion happens when the teeth and jaw are mismatched, so they don’t meet properly when the person bites down. It is believed that about two-thirds of Americans have some level of malocclusion.

When this disorder is not addressed, it can lead to crooked, crowded, or protruding teeth, as well as periodontal disease and tooth decay.
There are varying levels of malocclusion, which orthodontists classify as class 1, class 2, or class 3. Each has a different meaning.

Class 1: Your molars are positioned properly, but you might have a crossbite or teeth that overlap, depending on whether there is too much space or not enough space in your mouth.

Class 2: This level of malocclusion means the low molars are too far back and the chin is being pulled inward. This causes the upper teeth to protrude or stick out. This is also called an overbite.

Class 3: This level of malocclusion means that there is an underbite, because the lower teeth jut out further than the top teeth. With this classification, the lower molars are too far forward.

What Are the Origins of This Odd-Sounding Word?

The word seems like a strange word until you pull it apart. The base word of “malocclusion” is “occlusion,” which is a description of the way your teeth in the upper and lower jaws meet when you bite down. The “mal” part is from the Latin word mal, which means “bad.”

Malocclusion has more common terms to express it as well: overbite, crossbite, underbite, and so forth.

What Causes Malocclusion?

You might have malocclusion as a result of genetics, although there are environmental factors that can cause it as well. Childhood habits such as thumb-sucking and tongue-thrusting can cause malocclusion. So can excessive use of the pacifier. Sometimes jaw trauma can also be the cause of malocclusion.

If you are looking for ways to get your child to stop sucking his or her thumb, this article by a pediatrician has some tips: Thumb Sucking and Finger Sucking: 11 Ways to Break the Habit Without Breaking Your Budget.

How Is Malocclusion Treated?

Malocclusion is treated in a number of different ways:
  • Teeth might be removed if there is overcrowding in the mouth.
  • One of the most common treatments for malocclusion is braces. Braces to correct malocclusion are usually worn for about two years, followed by the use of a retainer to prevent teeth from slipping back into an undesired position.
  • If irregularly shaped teeth are the cause of malocclusion, crowns might be recommended to improve the shape so the bite meets properly.
  • In the most extreme cases of malocclusion, surgery might be recommended to reshape the jaw.

Do All Cases of Malocclusion Need to Be Treated?

Sometimes the malocclusion is very minor, so treatment is not necessary. The only way to know for sure, however, is to see your orthodontist.

Can Adults Be Treated for Malocclusion?

You are never too old to correct your bite! It is easier to treat when you are younger, but adults can be treated as well. Your Thornton orthodontist can recommend the best treatment for you, whether it is braces or some other treatment.

What Are the Benefits of Malocclusion Treatment?

If braces are your treatment option of malocclusion, you might instantly think that the advantage is that you’ll have straight teeth, which can be a boost to your self-confidence. Your crooked teeth or bite problems can be a source of shame and embarrassment, impacting your personality and social life. A straight, even smile has also been shown to lead to more career success in later life.

While this is important, there are other reasons why it’s a good thing to have straight, even teeth and a proper, matched bite.
  • Straight teeth are easier to clean. Teeth that are crowded or overlapped are tough to brush. Your toothbrush simple cannot reach these small spaces. Flossing can be difficult too—especially if you can’t get the floss into a tight space. This not only puts you at risk for developing cavities, but you will be at higher risk for developing gum disease. Gum disease, or periodontal disease, can impact your entire body’s well-being because it puts you at higher risk of developing serious health issues such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
  • When you have a better bite, you won’t be putting undue pressure on your teeth every time you chew. Over time, a bad bite can cause other problems with your teeth, such as abnormal wear. A bad bite can also be the culprit behind headaches and jaw pain.
If your teeth are not properly aligned, you might be dealing with malocclusion. Don’t let this have in impact on your oral health. Contact an orthodontist immediately for an examination so you can find out what your best options are for getting a straight, evenly spaced smile. Whatever your age, it’s never to late for treatment!

At Prentice Orthodontics, our goal is to serve your needs, improve your health, and give you smile you love to show off! Our well-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!