Malocclusions: The word malocclusion literally means "bad bite." Malocclusion is a problem in the way the upper and lower teeth and/or jaws fit together.
Malocclusions are most often inherited, but may be acquired. Inherited conditions include too many or too few teeth, spaced or crowded teeth, irregular jaw size or shape, and atypical formations of the jaws and face, such as a cleft palate. Malocclusions may be acquired from habits like finger or thumb sucking, forward tongue thrusting/positioning, premature loss of teeth from an accident or dental disease, and medical conditions such as enlarged tonsils and adenoids that lead to mouth breathing.
Malocclusions may be symptomless or they may produce pain from increased stress on the oral structures. Teeth may show abnormal signs of wear on the chewing surfaces or decay in areas of tight overlap. Chewing, swallowing, breathing, and speaking may also be affected.
Below are some examples of malocculusions:
Cross-bite: The upper teeth sit inside of the lower teeth, Cross-bites can include back teeth (posterior cross-bite) or front teeth (anterior cross-bite or “underbite”).
Open-bite: The upper front teeth and the lower front teeth do not overlap. This can greatly impact a person’s ability to chew, swallow and speak.
Overbite: the upper front teeth cover too much of the lower front teeth vertically. In severe cases, the lower front teeth may bite uncomfortably into the roof of the mouth.
Overjet: The front upper teeth protrude out past the lower front teeth horizontally. This drastically increases the risk of trauma to the teeth.
Offset Dental Midlines: The middle of the upper front teeth does not line up with the middle of the lower front teeth. This can negatively affect jaw functioning.
Spacing: The teeth within an arch are not all touching and spaces are present. This can be more than just an esthetic concern, as spaces can cause food impaction which can lead to eventual tooth decay and gingival breakdown.
Crowding: There is not enough room/space for all of the teeth within an arch to align properly, causing the teeth to crowd together and rotate. Significant dental crowding can make proper brushing and flossing very difficult, which can allow bacteria to collect in hard-to-reach areas and lead to tooth decay and gum disease.