Malocclusion is the misalignment of teeth and improper fitting of upper and lower teeth (bite). The ideal condition should show that all upper teeth fit slightly over the lower teeth or the points of the molars match the groves of the opposing molar. When a patient is not suffering from malocclusion, all his teeth are aligned, straight, and spaced proportionally. It is a common condition because very few people have perfect occlusion though most abnormal conditions are simple and minor which do not require treatment.
Most often than not, malocclusion is being inherited. If the upper and lower jaws or between jaw and tooth size are disproportioned, it will result to overcrowding of teeth or abnormal bite patterns. To some who have not inherited it but has a habit of thumbsucking or tongue thrusting during infancy, they might also develop malocclusion as these habits can affect the shape of jaws also. Moreover, the improper fit of dental appliances, crowns, or fillings may cause misaligned teeth also. Some accidents that may cause misalignment of jaw fractures or tumors of the mouth may contribute to malocclusion as well. Other causes of malocclusion include extra teeth, impacted or lost teeth, and teeth that erupt in an abnormal direction.
There are several types of Malocclusion and the most common is the first type or crowding (Type 1) which occurs when the bite is normal but teeth are crowded. Retrognathism or overbite (Type 2) refers to malocclusion where the upper jaw and teeth overlaps the bottom jaw and teeth. Prognathism or underbite (Type 3) happens when the lower jaw protrudes forward and the lower teeth extend over the upper teeth.
At an early age, usually during the first growth of tooth, malocclusion can be detected especially when the child loves pacifier or bottle until the age of three. The symptoms can range from mild to severe. Children who have it may improve over time as the jaw grows through the teen years. Symptoms for adults will typically get worse over the years if not given attention. If the patient has a poor bite that causes difficulty in chewing food, has the tendency to bite cheek or roof of the mouth, has trouble saying certain words (speech defects), suffers from pain in the facial muscles or jaw, or permanent teeth are erupting at the wrong position, he must submit to a dentist for observation and treatment.
The effects of malocclusion differ depending on the severity of the condition. Mild problems need little treatment or cosmetic dentistry help. On the other hand, severe malocclusion requires orthodontic treatment. Some patients may suffer from difficulty in eating and speaking while others are embarrassed on their crooked or protruding teeth. Although a poor bite does not usually submit from the risks of tooth decay and periodontal diseases, the patient may still develop more teeth problems because it is harder to clean misaligned teeth.