An Overview of Malocclusions

An Overview of Malocclusions
Posted on 12/05/2022

Malocclusion is a medical term used to describe any malformation of the teeth that prevents your upper and lower teeth from aligning when your mouth is closed. Malocclusion typically begins in childhood and may worsen as a child grows. Unfortunately, malocclusion can cause several problems when left untreated. Read this blog to better understand malocclusion and how it’s treated.

Symptoms of Malocclusion

The most obvious sign of malocclusion is a bad bite, which occurs when either the upper or lower teeth stick out. As a result, the affected child will have an overbite, underbite, open bite, or crossbite. The crowding of teeth is another obvious sign of malocclusion, as are crooked teeth.

Causes of Malocclusion

A combination of factors, including a child’s genes and environment, can cause malocclusion. Genes might make your teeth grow too big or crooked, while the environment can foster habits such as thumb-sucking, nail-biting, and teeth-grinding, all of which increase the risk of malocclusion. Jaw injuries can also cause teeth misalignment, resulting in a bad bite.

Effects of Malocclusion

If left untreated, malocclusion causes several problems that worsen with age. Malocclusion leads to tooth decay, tooth loss, and gum disease. A child with malocclusion can also have problems with eating and talking. Additionally, malocclusion may lead to teeth grinding, which further breaks down the teeth, causing additional dental problems.

Although jaw injuries are a known cause of malocclusion, malocclusion can also cause jaw problems. Teeth that are too large affect the jaw's joints, ligaments, and muscles. The jaw problems could lead to constant headaches, jaw pain, and limitations on how much your child can open their mouth.

Aside from health problems, malocclusion can also cause mental and self-esteem issues. Children with misaligned teeth tend to avoid others as they become self-conscious because of how their teeth look. Avoiding social situations makes it harder for children with malocclusion to make friends or form relationships.

Treatment Options for Malocclusion

Fortunately, there are several treatment options for children with malocclusion, although the type of treatment will vary with the extent of the teeth misalignment.

Teeth crowding can be fixed with tooth removal. The removal of some teeth will give the rest of the teeth room to grow. Unfortunately, some of the teeth that are removed may be permanent, as permanent teeth tend to be bigger than milk teeth.

Teeth removal is sometimes coupled with fitting mouth accessories such as retainers or braces. These appliances slowly move and straighten the teeth over time. A bite can also be fixed by adding crowns or bridges, which bring a bite into proper alignment.

Surgery may be required to correct some forms of malocclusion in more serious cases. Jaw injuries, for instance, are bone-deep and may require open surgery to correct. The surgery may also be coupled with braces or orthodontic treatments to correct the issue permanently.

If your child's malocclusion develops from tooth grinding, they may find relief from wearing a splint or a night guard. When in place, these accessories prevent teeth from cracking or wearing off because of clenching or grinding.

Prevention of Malocclusion

While the genetic causes of malocclusion may be impossible to prevent, you can discourage some behaviors that increase the risk. For instance, you could discourage your child from biting their fingernails or sucking their thumbs. It is also important to provide a safe environment that hinders your child from grinding their teeth.

If you suspect that your child may be developing any form of malocclusion, feel free to contact us at Treasured Smiles Pediatric Dentistry. Our board-certified pediatric dentists will happily answer any questions and provide the best care for your child.

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