When people think of orthodontics, they tend to visualize teeth straightening using metal braces or clear plastic aligners. But orthodontics is about more than just beautifully straightened teeth. It also corrects a misaligned bite! Malocclusions are what we orthodontists call “mismatched teeth” or jaw problems because of a misaligned bite. It is also more common than you might think! Around 2/3 of adults experience some malocclusion that can interfere with their oral health.
Orthodontists refer to occlusion as where your teeth meet when you close your mouth. So essentially, where your upper and lower jaws contact those teeth. Ideally, we want your teeth to sit comfortably inside your mouth with a slight overlap as the upper jaw meets your lower jaw when closing your mouth. The molars need to be able to fit into the grooves of the molars opposite them. What we don’t want to see is crowded teeth, diastema (tooth gaps), or teeth that are rotated or twisted. When your teeth deviate from what they should be, you will be dealing with malocclusion.
There are several different kinds of malocclusions that can cause trouble with your smile. Don’t ignore the following:
Diagnosing malocclusions usually involves having dental X-rays and an examination. Then our orthodontist can determine the cause and recommend proper corrective treatment. Treatment might involve wearing an orthodontic appliance like braces, aligners or retainers. Other solutions might include extracting teeth, reshaping teeth, stabilizing the jaw with plates and wires, or using a palatal expander.
Malocclusions typically get worse if they are not addressed, even to the point where brushing and flossing become difficult, leaving you vulnerable to cavities, gum disease and, over time, tooth loss. If you suspect you might have malocclusion, we invite you to come in for a consultation and evaluation. Our orthodontist can help you get the aligned smile you deserve!