Malocclusion is a misalignment problem of the teeth. If left untreated, it can lead to serious oral health complications. Ideally, the teeth should fit easily within the mouth without any issues with crowding or spacing. Additionally, the teeth should not be rotated or twisted. Malocclusion includes such problems as:
If the teeth are misaligned, they are unable to perform vital functions. Proper alignment of the upper teeth is necessary to prevent the cheeks and lips from being bitten; alignment of the lower teeth protects the tongue from being bitten.
Prevention of malocclusion can be difficult because oftentimes, the cause is hereditary. Parents of young children are advised to limit pacifier and bottle use to avoid major changes in the development of the jaw. Early detection of malocclusion by a dentist can help to cut down on the length and severity of the treatment used to correct the problem. Early treatment (during childhood) reduces not only the duration of the treatment but also the cost. Adults can receive effective treatment for malocclusion, but in general, the earlier it is treated, the better the outcome.
Malocclusion of teeth is usually diagnosed by the dentist during a routine dental exam. The teeth will be examined, and dental X-rays may be taken to determine whether or not the teeth are in proper alignment. If malocclusion is detected, it will be classified by its type and severity in order to determine the best treatment.
Most cases of mild malocclusion will not require treatment. However, for severe cases, an orthodontist may be referred to. Treatments for malocclusion include: