When you have an abnormal alignment your teeth, jaw and/or a bad bite you have a malocclusion. It can develop when the upper and lower teeth do not fit together normally. This misalignment of teeth and jaw can lead to oral health problems if not treated. Severely misaligned teeth and jaws can cause snoring, sleep apnea, and other breathing problems.
Most cases of malocclusion are hereditary. However, certain habits that alter the alignment between the teeth and jaw can also contribute to malocclusion. Some causes include: frequent use of a pacifier, prolonged bottle feeding, thumb sucking, oral injuries, crowded teeth, poor dental hygiene, airway obstruction, enlarged adenoids and a cleft palate.
Symptoms of malocclusion can include:
- misalignment of the teeth
- discomfort when eating
- speech impediment
- biting of the tongue or cheek and mouth breathing.
Treatment for malocclusion
Often orthodontics is recommended for the treatment of malocclusion. Depending on your type of malocclusion, treatments can include any of the following:
- braces to correct the position of your teeth
- oral appliances such as a retainer to realign the teeth
- removing the overcrowded teeth
- reshaping, bonding, or capping of teeth
- oral surgery to reshape the jaw
Your dentist will recommend a treatment based on the severity of your bite, the degree of dental misalignment and your desired results. It’s important that your child receive dental treatment early because it can help reduce the treatment duration and may lead to fewer dental expenses in the long run.