A Patient’s Guide to Malocclusion
One in five people has some form of malocclusion or irregular contact between their upper and lower teeth. Occlusion, or the proper alignment of teeth, is not always naturally achieved. Ideally, the jaws align so that the upper teeth fit slightly over the lower teeth and the positioning of every tooth fits into the grooves of its partner. Teeth that do not fit together correctly are harder to keep clean, consequently putting patients at greater risk for tooth decay and gum disease, among other issues associated with malocclusion.
Before deciding on a treatment plan, it is helpful for patients to be informed of the different categories and types of malocclusion.
The 3 Categories of Malocclusion
- Class 1 is the most common category of malocclusion. There is a normal bite with slight overlap or slightly abnormal spacing, rotation, or crowding.
- Class 2 or retrognathism is an overbite with severe overlap of the upper and lower jaw and poor molar correlation.
- Class 3 or prognathism is an underbite in which the lower jaw protrudes, causing an overlap of the lower and upper jaw.
The 10 Different Types of Malocclusion
- Crowding is the most common malocclusion. A lack of space can lead to crooked teeth and overlap. Crowding can affect a few teeth or every tooth.
- Overjet is a horizontal extension of the top teeth over the bottom teeth. It differs from overbite. Exposed, protruding teeth are susceptible to damage and may cause problems with speech and/or eating.
- Overbite is the overlapping of the upper teeth with the lower teeth. Slight overlap is actually ideal, but an extended overlap necessitates treatment.
- Crossbite occurs when the upper teeth bite inside the lower teeth on one or both sides of the jaw, affecting the front or back teeth.
- Anterior Crossbite refers to underbite or the overlapping of the bottom teeth with the upper teeth.
- Spacing between two or more teeth may occur as a result of smaller teeth, missing teeth, a tongue thrust, or thumb sucking.
- Diastema is spacing between only two teeth, typically the top front teeth.
- Impaction occurs when a tooth is unable to descend and erupt past the gum line due to an obstruction. Crowding can lead to a tooth being impacted.
- Hypodontia is simply a missing tooth, resulting from improper development or blunt trauma.
- Open Bite occurs when there is no overlap between the upper and lower teeth. Tongue thrust or thumb sucking are the most common causes of open bite.
With advancements in orthodontics, treatment options for malocclusions are more convenient than ever before. Clear aligner therapy can address every type of malocclusion, and Dr. Joel Butterworth specializes in customizing a treatment plan that works efficiently and effectively. Contact us today to discuss your specific needs.