Malocclusion of Teeth - Explained

If you have been told you should consider orthodontics, you may have also heard the word “malocclusion”. This might sound like a scary word, but it isn’t something to be overly concerned about. Malocclusion is very easily fixed, and in many cases, malocclusion doesn’t require treatment at all.

This is a term used in dentistry to refer to the spacing and alignment of your teeth. There are different levels of malocclusion, and some are so mild that treatment isn’t necessary. In this guide, we’re exploring the term malocclusion in more detail so you can feel more confident discussing this term with your dentist.

What does malocclusion mean?

Malocclusion simply means that your teeth are overcrowded or misaligned. This condition is often seen first in young teens when they start to see their adult teeth emerge. If the teeth are too large for the mouth, there will be overcrowding, and the teeth will need to move into any available position.

Malocclusion can also occur as a result of your top and bottom jaw arches being out of alignment. This causes issues with your bite and can lead to crooked teeth over time. So, even if you had braces as a teenager, you could still face malocclusion in adulthood if you have stopped wearing your retainer.

What causes malocclusion of teeth?

There are many different reasons your teeth could be misaligned. It could be down to one of the following factors:

  • Habits in childhood such as thumb sucking, tongue thrusting or using a dummy or bottle beyond the age of 3.

  • Extra teeth, missing teeth, impacted teeth or teeth with an abnormal shape.

  • Poorly fitting fillings, crowns, retainers or braces

  • Jaw alignment problems after an injury

  • Tumours of the mouth or jaw

Malocclusion is often graded into three levels, with level one being mild and not requiring correction and level three being worthy of orthodontics or similar treatment.

How do I know if I have malocclusion?

The easiest way to find out if you have alignment problems with your teeth is to see a dentist. Regular dental checkups will allow your dentist to get to know you and your smile. This will enable them to track changes in the alignment of your teeth and take action when something is amiss.

Common symptoms of malocclusion that you might want to explore with a dentist include:

  • Poorly aligned teeth, including crooked teeth and rotated teeth

  • Facial asymmetry

  • Issues with biting or chewing

  • Speech problems such as a lisp

  • Inability to bite into food correctly

  • Breathing problems, such as mouth breathing

What can be done for malocclusion?

The most common treatment plan is orthodontic treatment. In the case of severe overcrowding, you might also need to consider extractions, including wisdom teeth extraction. This can help to solve issues with painful impacted teeth.

The most common orthodontic treatments include fixed braces or removable aligners like Invisalign. Your orthodontist can help you to choose the right treatment plan for your needs. You’ll need to consider your lifestyle alongside factors such as the severity of your malocclusion.

Will malocclusion get better on its own?

No, your teeth will naturally move into the easiest alignment pattern, and this is unlikely to be perfect alignment without treatment. Most people find that their malocclusion will get worse with time as their teeth move further out of alignment. This can cause issues with your bite and make it difficult to chew.

Even after orthodontic treatment, you’ll need to continue wearing a retainer at night time to ensure your teeth stay in the correct position. Your teeth will naturally want to drift back to their former alignment, and this will happen gradually if you don’t wear a retainer.

Malocclusion will not only damage your confidence, it will also harm your oral health over time. Poorly aligned teeth are much more difficult to care for, so you might struggle to brush and floss your teeth correctly. You can also face issues with gum disease which can then lead to tooth loss.

Ready to speak to your dentist?

If you are concerned about the alignment of your teeth, the first step is to book an appointment with your dentist to get a detailed view of your teeth and find out what can be done to correct the alignment. Book an appointment today to learn more.

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Benfleet Dental Centre

8 Benfleet Road, Benfleet. SS7 1QB

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