What is Occlusion?
In order to understand what Malocclusion is we must first understand proper occlusion. The top and bottom teeth are meant to rest comfortably on each other at the back of the mouth with the points of the molars fitting into the grooves of the opposite molar, while the front teeth overlap each other to create a “Bite”. The upper teeth keep the cheeks and lips from being bitten and the lower teeth protect the tongue.
What is Malocclusion?
Malocclusion is a way of describing any degree of irregular contact of the teeth of the upper and lower jaw.
Categories of Malocclusion
- Class 1 malocclusion is the most common one. The bite is normal, but the upper teeth slightly overlap the lower teeth.
- Class 2 malocclusion, called retrognathism or overbite, occurs when the upper jaw and teeth severely overlap the bottom jaw and teeth.
- Class 3 malocclusion, called prognathism or underbite, occurs when the lower jaw protrudes or juts forward, causing the lower jaw and teeth to overlap the upper jaw and teeth.
Causes of Malocclusion
- Inherited conditions include too many or too few teeth, too much or too little space between teeth, irregular mouth and jaw size and shape, and atypical formations of the jaws and face
- Birth defects (such as cleft lip and palate).
- Childhood habits (thumb sucking, tongue thrusting).
- Extra teeth, lost teeth or impacted teeth.
- Trauma (jaw fractures or severe injury).
Symptoms of Malocclusion
- Abnormal facial appearance.
- Speech problems such as a lisp.
- Mouth breathing
- Abnormal alignment of teeth
- Discomfort when biting or chewing
- Difficulty keeping the lips closed
- Abnormally shaped teeth