Occlusion is a dental term referring to the proper positioning of the lower and upper teeth when you bite down. A normal bite consists of the upper teeth fitting slightly over the bottom teeth and the upper molars’ points fitting the bottom molars’ points. Alternately, a malocclusion means the top and bottom teeth are not properly positioned when you bite down.
Common reasons for malocclusions include overcrowding of teeth, overbites, different-sized upper and lower jaws, abnormal tooth sizes and extensive thumb sucking or pacifier use after the age three. Treatment for most malocclusions requires the expertise of an orthodontist who specializes in bite correction and straightening teeth so the teeth look great and also work correctly. Read on to find out how these different types of malocclusion affect your orthodontic treatment options.
Consequences of Untreated Malocclusions
I remind parents that the best preventative measure for detecting a malocclusion in its earliest stage is to make sure children visit a dentist every six months for an exam and cleaning and we suggest their first orthodontic exam at 7 years old. Most malocclusions treated at Strickland Orthodontics involve teeth crowding, overbites, and crooked teeth that reduce space between teeth. In addition to causing exaggerated wear and tear on dental enamel, malocclusions may also:
- Promote tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease by making it harder to clean between and around teeth
- Inhibit proper closing of the jaws
- Encourage mouth-breathing (especially severe openbites and crowded teeth)
- Create an abnormal facial structure appearance
- Produce discomfort or pain when chewing or biting down/inability to properly chew food
- Cause chipping or cracking of teeth
- Cause speech impediments
- Other problems may arise depending on the severity and type of malocclusion.
What are the Three Types of Malocclusions?
- Class 1 malocclusion–the most common type of malocclusion, it’s when the upper teeth and lower teeth do not fit correctly but the front to back relationship is ok.
- Class 2 malocclusion–overbites (retrognathism) occur when the upper teeth are well in front of the lower teeth. This usually also causes a large amount of overjet.
- Class 3 malocclusion–less common than Class 1 or Class 2 malocclusion, Class 3 (prognathism) involves your lower front teeth being positioned much more prominently than your upper front teeth. This is also commonly referred to as an underbite.
Orthodontic Care for Malocclusions
When one has a malocclusion, it’s important to note that it won’t naturally improve over time. It can not be corrected on its own, no matter how much your jaw develops with age. The best preventative treatment to ensure it doesn’t develop over time and to get worse is to consider getting orthodontic treatment. These types of orthodontic treatment include:
Metal and Ceramic Braces
You can opt for titanium metal braces or clear, ceramic braces if you’re looking to effectively treat your bite. Clear braces work just as well as metal braces for straightening teeth but are made of a transparent material that makes them virtually invisible. Both of these treatments work rapidly to change the structure of their teeth. Children and teenagers who tend to choose this type of treatment are always thrilled to find out that clear braces that are barely noticeable.
Invisalign Tray Aligners
In our office, Invisalign aligners are a wonderful option for about 95% of our patients. Made from a special kind of sturdy plastic, Invisalign tray aligners are transparent fittings that cover your upper and/or lower teeth comfortably. Dr. Stephen uses computer software to determine the shape of your mouth and have aligners created to fit snugly over crooked teeth. As your teeth begin straightening, you are given new aligners with slightly different dimensions to continue repositioning your teeth. They can be easily removed when you brush your teeth or eat meals.
Learning More About Malocclusions
Learn More About Malocclusions and Orthodontic Treatment by Calling Strickland Orthodontics.
With several convenient locations throughout Alabama, including Fairhope, Spanish Fort, Daphne and Baldwin County, Strickland Orthodontics remains one of the state’s leading orthodontics practices serving adults, teens and children with malocclusions. In addition to metal and clear braces, Invisalign and other orthodontic appliances, we also provide surgical and soft tissue laser orthodontic treatments for malocclusions affecting the jaw and facial structure.
Contact one of our locations today to schedule an appointment for an examination and consultation!