Malocclusion, or crooked teeth, is among the most common reasons people require dental services. It is unfortunate, however, that having the issue in the first place is more a matter of chance than a result of carelessness.
While childhood habits, ill-fitting dental appliances, severe jaw injuries and oral tumours can cause teeth to become misaligned, malocclusion is generally a hereditary issue. Regardless, it can have a significant negative effect on a person’s self-confidence as well as their ability to speak correctly.
Dentists from MiSmile, an Invisalign provider in Oxford, characterise malocclusion as abnormal alignment of teeth, causing difficulty or discomfort when biting or chewing and the tendency to breathe through the mouth due a patient’s inability to close his or her lips. Although rare, they also mention the possibility of a person with malocclusion to develop a lisp or other speech difficulties.
There are three categories of malocclusion, with several specific types.
Class 1 malocclusion
— this is the category most patients fall into, and is characterised by a normal bite, but with the upper teeth slightly overlapping the lower teeth.
Class 2 malocclusion
— this occurs when the upper jaw and teeth severely overlap the bottom jaw and teeth. Dentists often refer to this category of malocclusion as retrognathism or overbite.
Class 3 malocclusion
— this occurs when the lower jaw protrudes or juts forward, causing the lower jaw to overlap the upper jaw, rendering both sets of teeth out of alignment. Dentists often refer to this category of malocclusion as prognathism or underbite.
Malocclusion is the most common reason for orthodontist referrals, and for good reason. Advancements in the field of dentistry allow patients to realign their teeth in a matter of months, and even without the dreaded ‘metal mouth’. With transparent appliances they offer a subtle, yet effective solution to misaligned teeth.