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Malocclusion

In dental terms, teeth misalignment is referred to as malocclusion. If you have this case, you might develop dental issues such as cavities and gum disease. These are all considered as malocclusion cases:

  • Overbite
  • Underbite
  • Crossbite 
  • Open bite
  • Crowded teeth

Malocclusion is usually heredity, so some patients are born with it. However, patients also acquire crooked teeth if they have oral habits since childhood that were not corrected until the teeth have developed. Oral habits include thumbsucking, using a pacifier or a milk bottle. 

On the other hand, malocclusion also happens due to injuries and other medical conditions like cleft palate and mouth tumours. 

Malocclusion should be corrected because it has more adverse effects than just its appearance. When your teeth are misaligned, it’s harder to perform oral hygiene because some parts are difficult to reach with your toothbrush. It could lead to tooth decay, periodontal disease, or tooth loss.  

One way to correct this is by wearing braces. Your dentist in Saskatoon will help you decide what type of orthodontic treatment suits you. 

Causes

Occlusion refers to the alignment of teeth and the way that the upper and lower teeth fit together (bite). Ideally, all upper teeth fit slightly over the lower teeth. The points of the molars fit the grooves of the opposite molar. The upper teeth keep the cheeks and lips from being bitten and the lower teeth protect the tongue. Malocclusion is most often hereditary, which means the condition is passed down through families. There may be a difference between the size of the upper and lower jaws or between jaw and tooth size, resulting in overcrowding of teeth or in abnormal bite patterns. Variations in size or structure of either jaw may affect its shape, as can birth defects such as cleft lip and palate. Other causes of malocclusion include:
  • Childhood habits such as thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, pacifier use beyond age 3, and prolonged use of a bottle
  • Extra teeth, lost teeth, impacted teeth, or abnormally shaped teeth
  • Ill-fitting dental fillings, crowns, appliances, retainers, or braces
  • Misalignment of jaw fractures after a severe injury
  • Tumors of the mouth and jaw

There are different categories of malocclusion.

  • Class 1 malocclusion is the most common. The bite is normal, but the upper teeth slightly overlap the lower teeth.
  • Class 2 malocclusion, called retrognathism or overbite, occurs when the upper jaw and teeth severely overlap the bottom jaw and teeth.
  • Class 3 malocclusion, called prognathism or underbite, occurs when the lower jaw protrudes or juts forward, causing the lower jaw and teeth to overlap the upper jaw and teeth

Symptoms

  • Abnormal alignment of teeth
  • Abnormal appearance of the face
  • Difficulty or discomfort when biting or chewing
  • Speech difficulties (rare) including lisp
  • Mouth breathing (breathing through the mouth without closing the lips)

Exams and Tests

Most problems with teeth alignment are discovered by a dentist during a routine exam. The dentist may pull your cheek outward and ask you to bite down to check how well your back teeth come together. If there is any problem, the dentist will usually refer you to an orthodontist for diagnosis and treatment.

Dental x-rays, head or skull x-rays or facial x-rays may be required. Plaster or plastic molds of the teeth are often needed.

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