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what is a malocclusion?

patient smilingMalocclusion is a dental condition affecting how the teeth fit together in the upper and lower jaw. It is a common problem that can affect both children and adults. The term "malocclusion" refers to any deviation from a normal occlusion or bite. This means the teeth are not properly aligned, which can cause various issues, such as difficulty biting, chewing, and speaking.

You can be seen by our professionals at Jason Widner DMD Family Dentistry to see if you have an issue with your bite.

Types of Malocclusion

There are several types of malocclusion, each with its unique characteristics and causes. Some common types of malocclusion include:


An overbite is when the top front teeth overlap too much with the bottom front teeth. This can cause the bottom front teeth to bite into the top of the mouth, leading to discomfort or injury.


An underbite is when the bottom teeth stick out in front of the top teeth. This misalignment can make it difficult to bite and chew properly and lead to speech difficulties.


A crossbite is when the upper teeth sit inside the lower teeth, causing misalignment. This can lead to uneven wear and tear on the teeth, which can cause problems with the jaw joint and result in muscle pain.

Open Bite

An open bite is when the upper and lower front teeth do not touch when the mouth is closed. This can make biting and chewing difficult, and it can also have an impact on speech.


When there isn't enough room in the jaw for all teeth, it can cause crowding. This can lead to tooth decay and gum disease, as it can be difficult to clean the teeth properly.

Causes of Malocclusion

Malocclusion can have a variety of causes, including genetics, thumb-sucking, and injury to the jaw. Other factors that can contribute to malocclusion include:
•  Poor oral habits including thumb-sucking, tongue-thrusting, and prolonged pacifier use, can cause malocclusion.
•  When a person breathes through their mouth rather than their nose, it can cause the upper jaw to develop differently, leading to malocclusion.
•  Malocclusion can be inherited, so a person with a family history of dental problems may be more likely to develop malocclusion.
•  If a child loses their baby teeth too early, it can cause the remaining teeth to shift, leading to malocclusion.

Treatment for Malocclusion

Treatment for malocclusion varies depending on the severity and type of the condition. Orthodontic treatment, such as braces or clear aligners, may sometimes be recommended to move the teeth into the correct position. These treatments can take several months or even years to complete.
For more severe cases of malocclusion, tooth extraction may be necessary to create more space in the mouth. Sometimes, jaw surgery may be required to realign the upper and lower jawbones. This can improve the patient's bite and overall facial appearance.

Preventing Malocclusion

While malocclusion can have a variety of causes, some steps can be taken to help prevent it. These include:
•  Regular dental check-ups: Regular visits to the dentist can help detect malocclusion early and prevent it from worsening.
•  Good oral hygiene: Brushing and flossing regularly can help prevent tooth decay and gum disease, which can lead to malocclusion.
•  Avoiding bad habits: Thumb-sucking and tongue-thrusting can contribute to malocclusion, which can help prevent it.

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