Have you ever heard your orthodontist use the word malocclusion and not been sure what they meant? You might actually have known more about what they were talking about than you realised.
Malocclusion is the medical term for something that’s actually quite simple: crooked teeth. It’s an umbrella term that encompasses all types of crooked teeth, from underbites and overbites to spacing issues and over-crowding.
What causes malocclusions?
Generally speaking, most types of malocclusions are genetic. In other words, many of us inherit poorly aligned teeth from our parents, who inherited it from their parents in turn.
However, there are some factors that can increase the likelihood of crooked teeth. These include:
- Regularly using a dummy, a baby bottle or sucking your thumb after the age of three
- Jaw injuries
- Impacted or abnormally shaped teeth
- Tumours in the mouth or jaw
- Badly fitted fillings or crowns
Can malocclusions lead to serious problems?
Some malocclusions are mild enough that they don’t cause any problems. Others can lead to dissatisfaction with teeth alignment, a feeling of self-consciousness or under-confidence.
In some cases, more severe malocclusions can contribute to serious dental problems. Some types of malocclusion can make it difficult to carry out proper dental hygiene, which is likely to lead to tooth decay.
How can malocclusions be treated?
The only way to successfully treat malocclusions is to undergo teeth realignment treatment with a brace. A brace works by slowly encouraging your teeth into a more favourable position.
Orthodontic treatment can vary greatly on length. How long it will take depends on both how serious the original malocclusion is and which type of brace is used to treat it. Typical treatment types range from six to eighteen months.