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What is a Malocclusion?

A malocclusion is an incorrect relationship between the maxilla (upper arch) and the mandible (lower arch), or a general misalignment of the teeth.  Malocclusions are so common that most individuals experience one, to some degree.  The poor alignment of the teeth is thought to be a result of genetic factors combined with poor oral habits, or other factors in the early years.

Moderate malocclusion commonly requires treatment by an orthodontist.  Orthodontists are dentists who specialize in the treatment of malocclusions and other facial irregularities.

The following are three main classifications of malocclusion:

  • Class I – The occlusion is typical, but there are spacing or overcrowding problems with the other teeth.

  • Class II – The malocclusion is an overbite (the upper teeth are positioned further forward than the lower teeth).  This can be caused by the protrusion of anterior teeth or the overlapping of the central teeth by the lateral teeth.

  • Class III – Prognathism (also known as “underbite”) is a malocclusion caused by the lower teeth being positioned further forward than the upper teeth.  An underbite usually occurs when the jawbone is large or the maxillary bone is short.

Reasons for treating a malocclusion

A severe malocclusion may lead to skeletal disharmony of the lower face.  In a more extreme case, the orthodontist may work in combination with a maxillofacial dentist to reconstruct the jaw.  It is never too late to seek treatment for a malocclusion.  Children and adults alike have completed orthodontic realignment procedures and have been delighted with the resulting even, straight smile.

Here are some of the main reasons to seek orthodontic treatment for a malocclusion:

  • Reduced risk of tooth decay – A malocclusion often causes an uneven wear pattern on the teeth.  The constant wearing of the same teeth can lead to tooth erosion and decay.

  • Better oral hygiene – A malocclusion can be caused by overcrowding.  When too many teeth are competing for too little space, it can be difficult to clean the teeth and gums effectively.  It is much easier to clean straight teeth that are properly aligned.

  • Reduced risk of TMJ – Temporomandibular jaw syndrome (TMJ) is thought to be caused by a malocclusion.  Headaches, facial pains and grinding teeth during sleep all result from the excessive pressure to the temporomandibular joint.  Realigning the teeth reduces pressure, and eliminates these symptoms.

How is a malocclusion treated?

A malocclusion is usually treated with dental braces.  The orthodontist takes panoramic X-rays, conducts visual examinations, and takes bite impressions of the whole mouth before deciding on the best course of treatment.  If a malocclusion is obviously caused by overcrowding, the orthodontist may decide an extraction is the only way to create enough space for the realignment.  However, in the case of an underbite, crossbite or overbite, there are several different orthodontic appliances available, such as:

  • Fixed multibracket braces – This type of dental braces consists of brackets cemented to each tooth, and an archwire that connects each one.  The orthodontist adjusts or changes the wire on a regular basis to train the teeth into proper alignment.

  • Removable devices – There are many non-fixed dental braces available to treat a malocclusion.  Retainers, headgear and palate expanders are amongst the most common.  Retainers are generally used to hold the teeth in the correct position while the jawbone grows properly around them.
  • Invisalign® – These dental aligners are removable and invisible to the naked eye.  Invisalign® works similarly to fixed dental braces but does not impact the aesthetics of the smile.

If you have any questions about malocclusions, please contact our office.

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Testimonials

Dr. Mirkin is a trustworthy dentist with a gentle touch. I went in for a cleaning yesterday and was pleasantly surprised by how thorough she was with my consultation. She noted a few problem areas but was not pushy, which was refreshing. She took a lot of time discussing which teeth were most in need of work, and others that may need work down-the-line. I highly recommend Dr. Mirkin to anyone looking for a caring and professional dentist. Thanks Dr. Mirkin!

CR.

Saw Dr. Mirkin today. She does a great job will be seeing her again for the third time. Nice office and very good location it blends in with the neighborhood so don’t drive right past it ok it’s there!

Josh W.

Since going back to school I lost my dental insurance. I found Dr. Mirkin through groupon and read great reviews so decided to give her a try. She is a very caring, attentive dentist that truly cares about your overall health as well as your teeth. She spends quality time explaining things and making you feel comfortable. She referred me to the dental choice program which is basically a discount program for those without dental insurance. Her prices are reasonable and her services are great. I recommended her to my boyfriend who started seeing her for dental care and we will not go anywhere else now. Also, Jessica her secretary is very friendly, responds quickly to phone calls and online appointment requests and or messages. She has made dealing with this office smooth and efficient.

Emily.

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Contact Us.We encourage you to contact us with any questions or comments you may have. Please call our office or use the quick contact form.

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We encourage you to contact us with any questions or comments you may have. Please call our office or use the quick contact form below.