Malocclusion is misalignment of the way the teeth fit together, such as with crowding, gaps, overbite or underbite, rotated or twisted teeth, or other problems with the “bite” or way the teeth align and occlude. Although a large part of malocclusion is genetic and inherited, certain activities can contribute to it. Here are a few things, including some that you should be sure to avoid or to discourage in your children, that can contribute to malocclusion:
- Prolonged use of pacifier or bottle after infancy
- Thumb sucking
- Abnormal or impacted teeth
- Trauma or injury
- Improperly fitted dental restoration or orthodontic devices
- Other medical or developmental disorders of the mouth or face
To help prevent or minimize malocclusion, parents are encouraged to limit pacifier or bottle use and thumb sucking to help prevent them for causing changes in jaw. Beginning treatment to correct malocclusion early is helpful in minimizing symptoms and problems. Malocclusion may cause symptoms such as discomfort when chewing or biting, bruxism, speech or breathing problems, altered facial appearance, a misaligned appearance of the teeth, as well as other long-term effects that can compromise the health and integrity of teeth. Some examples of that would be bruising and nerve injury or nerve death for teeth that receive the brunt of the bite force of the jaw over time, or increased risk of caries between crowded teeth that are difficult to clean around properly.
Treatment for malocclusion may include braces or orthodontic procedures, extractions, placement or replacement of dental restorations, and in some severe cases, jaw surgery or wiring. Seeking orthodontic treatment with a focus on occlusion as well as appearance of the teeth is usually the best treatment for most cases.
Since Dr. Vancil is very aware of the problems that can arise from a “bad bite”, he is a serious proponent of the importance of proper occlusion…. don’t be surprised about how much you can learn about it at Mall of Georgia Dentistry! So if you have any questions or concerns about malocclusion, give our office a call and see if we can help improve you or your child’s smile!