What is ‘malocclusion?’

Malocclusion is the technical name for a ‘bad bite’ and refers to problems with talking, chewing, biting and swallowing food. It can also affect your facial appearance.

Your ‘bite’ is the name given to the action of opening and closing your jaws. Your jaws are connected via a small joint which acts in a similar manner to a hinge and enables them to work in a smooth, co-ordinated manner.

But problems can occur with your jaw, such as temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) which can be both painful and distressing. Treatment for this can include the fitting of a corrective brace.

Problems with your bite can also include an ‘underbite’ or an ‘overbite’: an underbite occurs when your lower jaw and teeth protrude forward which means that they close in front of your upper teeth. An ‘overbite’ is where the opposite happens: when you close your jaws you notice that your upper teeth protrude in front of your lower teeth.

What causes malocclusion? There are a variety of factors which cause this which include:

  • Accident or injury: teeth can be broken or knocked out especially during childhood. If this happens during childhood then the replacement tooth will often fuse with the surrounding bone. This results in an irregular line up of the teeth.
  • Thumb sucking: many children suck their thumb which can cause the upper teeth to stick out over the lower teeth.
  • Tongue thrusting: some children get into the habit of thrusting their tongue against their teeth which can result in the upper teeth protruding over the lower teeth.
  • Small mouth: a small mouth can mean limited space for the teeth to grow which can lead to overcrowding.
  • Too many teeth: you can have too many teeth or not enough which then cause problems with your bite.
  • Jaw disorders: a misaligned jaw or TMJ disorder can lead to malocclusion. This is characterised by pain in your jaw and popping or clicking sounds.

If you have malocclusion then treatment is required to reduce the risk of tooth decay and premature wearing down of the teeth.

Learn more about orthodontics….

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