What Is Malocclusion?
Dental malocclusion occurs when there is poor alignment between the upper and lower jaws. This can create crooked teeth, overcrowding, or bite problems (underbite, overbite, or crossbite) — and can even affect facial shape and profile. If not properly treated, dental malocclusion can lead to sleep disorders, gum disease, tooth decay, and temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD), among other dental issues. Our dentists are skilled at identifying dental malocclusions and offer years of experience in helping Plymouth and Kingston, MA area patients overcome these conditions. If you or a family member has a misaligned jaw or bite, please contact Plymouth Dental Group and schedule a consultation today.
Occlusion (how the upper and lower teeth fit together) can be a very complex topic but is generally grouped into three different classes. These classes are determined according to specific markers in the mouth that describe how the permanent first molar and canine teeth meet when biting down.
Class I is normal or ideal occlusion and occurs when the top teeth overlap the lower teeth in a balanced relationship.
Class II is when the lower jaw recedes severely, allowing the upper teeth to sit more forward in the mouth.
Class III occurs when the lower jaw protrudes, causing it to overlap the upper jaw and upper teeth.
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Signs of Malocclusion
Patients of all ages may have bite conditions caused by poorly aligned teeth or jaws. However, treatment may not be recommended until the permanent teeth have erupted. Although it is commonly hereditary, misaligned teeth or jaws may also be caused by thumb-sucking, teeth grinding (bruxism), tooth loss, or trauma. Children, teens, and adults with malocclusion may have trouble biting or chewing properly, speaking with ease, and jaw discomfort. Signs and symptoms of dental malocclusion may range from minor to severe and include:
- Overbite, underbite, overjet
- Crossbite, open bite
- Crooked or crowded teeth
- Rotated or tipped teeth
- Chipped or worn teeth
- Gum recession
Treating Dental Malocclusion
To diagnose occlusion concerns, our dentists will examine the teeth, jaw positioning, and facial profile. We will evaluate how the teeth bite together when the mouth is fully closed. Digital x-rays or 3D oral imaging may also be used to fully evaluate occlusion. The recommended treatment for most cases of misaligned jaws or teeth is typically orthodontics and may include braces, retainers, clear teeth aligners, or other appliances. Patients who have severe overcrowding of the teeth may require tooth extraction before moving forward with other treatments. If the jaw is badly misaligned, a surgical approach might be recommended to correct jaw positioning and enhance oral function.
Treating malocclusion, especially if accomplished through orthodontics, may take place over a couple of years. However, seeking even minor improvements can dramatically improve oral function and facial appearance. Once the teeth and jaw are brought into proper alignment, a permanent or removable retainer may be necessary to maintain ideal positioning. Maintaining good oral hygiene and health during and following any treatment for dental malocclusion is essential to preserving your smile. During your routine dental cleaning and checkup visits at Plymouth Dental Care, our dentists will monitor your occlusion and jaw positioning to help you enjoy long-term health and wellness.
Insurance coverage for treating dental malocclusion may vary by procedure and individual plan. Prior to treatment, our financial team will speak with your dental insurance provider to review your benefits and determine any personal costs. Plymouth Dental Group is pleased to offer flexible payment options and can help you apply for low-interest financing solutions.
Improve Your Oral Function
Bite issues can cause physical and emotional discomfort and may create more serious concerns if they go untreated. At Plymouth Dental Group, we strive to diagnose malocclusion early on and help our patients receive the treatment needed to attain a straighter, more comfortable smile. Call our Plymouth, MA practice today to set up a consultation with our dentists to explore your treatment options.