One of the most common dental issues is malocclusion, or an improper bite. Malocclusion can go in either direction with a person suffering from an over or underbite and is sometimes treatable with corrective measures or, in extreme cases, surgery. Curious about what causes malocclusion and which treatment option is right for you? We’ve got everything you need to know here.
Common causes of malocclusion
Malocclusion can occur for several reasons:
We inherit the good and bad from our parents, which also goes for dental health. Depending on your parent’s dental issues, especially jaw problems, you may also suffer from similar issues, including misalignment.
While it may have been comforting at the time, bad habits such as sucking your thumb as a child could lead to malocclusion. The repeated motion of sucking a thumb can cause your teeth and jaw to shift, leading to a bad bite, even if you were not predisposed genetically.
Other bad habits
Thumb sucking is not the only risk factor for malocclusion. Other poor habits include teeth grinding. This can lead to a whole host of problems from jaw discomfort, poor oral health, wearing of enamel, and a bad bite.
Our teeth are always vulnerable to trauma that can alter our smiles regardless of age. One issue that can cause malocclusion is the loss of a tooth. When we lose a tooth, our surrounding teeth tend to shift to fill those gaps, resulting in an improper bite due to excessive shifting.
Gaps or crowding
Excessive gaps in teeth or crowding can cause teeth to misalign, resulting in a bad bite that is crowded or spread too far out. Both conditions can be worrisome as you may end up with an open bite or excessive over and underbite.
How to treat malocclusion
There are a few options out there for treating malocclusion. The one that is right for you will depend on your unique risk factors and the extremeness of your bite issues.
Braces can be an excellent tool for adequately aligning teeth, which may help improve your bite. Not only can braces help with crowding issues, but bite correction accompanies that process. This commonly includes rubber bands that help fix and under or overbite.
If you need something more adaptable than braces, aligners may be a great choice. Like metal braces, aligners will straighten teeth over time and improve bite issues and overall dental health.
If teeth grinding puts you at risk of developing malocclusion or worsening a condition, it may be time to adopt a preventive measure like a nightguard. If you find that you are most often grinding your teeth during the day in response to stress or boredom, discuss other options with your dentist to help preserve your teeth health.
In some cases of extreme malocclusion, the best treatment option is surgery. Surgery treatment may be especially likely in conjunction with other teeth corrections like braces or aligners if suffering from an open bite.
The bottom line
Malocclusion can occur for several reasons and look different from person to person. To properly treat your case, you’ll want to visit a doctor for a thorough exam. Once you figure out which teeth straightening method suits your needs, you can begin treatment and achieve the straight smile you’ve been waiting for.
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