You won’t find the word “malocclusion” thrown around in everyday conversations (unless you spend a lot of time around oral health professionals, that is). Malocclusion is a word used to describe a misalignment of the teeth and bite. There are different classes and types of malocclusions, which, along with the severity, influence what treatment is best.
There are three classes of malocclusions. Class 1 is the most common, impacting about 60% of people with malocclusions. In this malocclusion, the bite is pretty normal but the teeth are misaligned somehow, whether they are overlapped, crowded, rotated, or have gaps between them. About 32% of people with malocclusions have a class 2 malocclusion, also known as an overbite. This is typically caused by the lower jaw being underdeveloped. A class 3 malocclusion is the opposite, with the lower jaw larger than the upper jaw, resulting in an underbite. This impacts about 8% of those with a malocclusion.
Overbites, underbites, and problems with crowding or spacing are among the most common types of malocclusions, but they aren’t the only ones. An overbite happens when the lower and upper teeth don’t overlap at all. An overjet is when the top teeth extend horizontally beyond the bottom teeth. An impacted tooth happens when a tooth is unable to erupt from the gum for some reason. Even a missing tooth can be a malocclusion.
Some malocclusions don’t require treatment because they are so minor. For those who want or need treatment, the most common options are braces or clear aligners. Which one is most suitable depends on the malocclusion and its severity. Some malocclusions may be treated with tooth extractions, retainers, or oral surgery. In some cases, multiple treatment options may be used to bring both the teeth and bite into their proper alignments.
Having properly aligned teeth and a properly aligned bite helps your smile look better. It also helps your teeth be healthier as well. It’s so much easier to properly care for your teeth when they are straight and in their proper positions. Treating malocclusions also reduces the risk of TMJ problems, snoring, and sleep apnea. It’s easier to properly chew and swallow your food too. If you have a malocclusion, the obvious solution is to have it treated as soon as possible so you can enjoy all the benefits of having well-aligned teeth.
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