Before & Afters–What is Dental Malocclusion?

An Overview of Malocclusion

An important part of your development is a functional and healthy formation of your occlusion, or  “bite.” Occlusion refers to how the top and bottom teeth fit together. Dental malocclusion affects 1 in 5 people, and occurs when you have crooked teeth and/or a misaligned bite. There are 3 different types of dental malocclusion:

• Class 1: Upper teeth overlap the bottom teeth, just slightly
• Overbite: The upper jaw and teeth overlap the bottom jaw and teeth.
• Underbite: The bottom jaw and teeth overlap the upper jaw and teeth.
Common Forms of Malocclusion

Open Bite — An open bite occurs when the molars of a patient’s mouth fit normally, but the upper front teeth don’t overlap the bottom front teeth, leaving a significant gap straight into the mouth on either side.

Overbite — An overbite occurs when the upper front teeth overlap too far down over the bottom front teeth. In these scenarios, the upper part of the jaw is too far forward. In severe cases the bottom teeth can be positioned so far back that they might actually bite into the roof of your mouth.

Underbite — An underbite is essentially the opposite of an overbite. In this scenario, your bottom lower teeth actually project out farther forward than your upper front teeth.

Problems with Spacing and Crowding — Sometimes the positioning of the jaw is fine, but when there is too much or too little room for your teeth, spacing or crowding problems can occur, which can result in a malocclusion.

Crossbite — A crossbite occurs when any of the upper teeth fit on the wrong side of the bottom teeth.

…And More — There are additional types of malocclusion, so if you feel your occlusion is abnormal and not listed here, our Patient Service team will be more than happy to assist you in answering questions and/or scheduling a consultation.

How Does Malocclusion Happen?
Malocclusion is mostly genetic, and includes birth defects like cleft lip and palate. But other factors can play a role, like thumb sucking or prolonged pacifier use. These childhood vices can cause teeth to shift. But jaw injuries can also impact tooth position.


Do Malocclusion Create More Problems?
Not necessarily. Only severe cases of dental malocclusion impact teeth functionality. Most people seek correction the problem for cosmetic reasons.


How is Malocclusion Corrected?
If the malocclusion is mild then no action will be required; however, in some severe cases, orthodontic treatment and/or corrective jaw surgery might be necessary. Orthodontists use braces, aligners and other techniques to fix the issue. Corrective jaw, or orthognathic surgery is performed by a board certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon to correct a wide range of minor and major skeletal and dental irregularities. Surgery can improve chewing, speaking and breathing.
Think you may have dental malocclusion? No matter your age, it’s never too late to correct your smile. If you have questions about malocclusion and corrective jaw surgery, and/or would like to schedule an appointment to see Dr. McGann, contact us today!
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