What are the causes and remedies for dental malocclusion?

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Dental malocclusion, also known as dental misalignment, is a condition that affects the alignment of the teeth and jaws. It can cause various problems, including difficulty in chewing, speech issues, and even self-esteem concerns. Understanding the causes and remedies for dental malocclusion is crucial for individuals experiencing this condition. In this article, we will explore the different types of malocclusion, the symptoms associated with it, and the available treatment options.

Types of Malocclusion

Malocclusion can be classified into different types based on the specific misalignment of the teeth and jaws. These types include:

  • Class I Malocclusion: This is the most common type of malocclusion, where the upper teeth slightly overlap the lower teeth.
  • Class II Malocclusion: Also known as overbite, this type occurs when the upper teeth significantly overlap the lower teeth.
  • Class III Malocclusion: Commonly referred to as underbite, this type is characterized by the lower teeth protruding beyond the upper teeth.
  • Crossbite: In a crossbite, the upper teeth sit inside the lower teeth when the jaws are closed.
  • Open Bite: An open bite occurs when the upper and lower teeth do not meet when the jaws are closed, leaving a gap between them.
  • Overjet: This type of malocclusion is characterized by the upper teeth protruding excessively forward.

Causes of Malocclusion

Several factors can contribute to the development of malocclusion. These include:

  • Genetics: In many cases, malocclusion is inherited from parents who have misaligned teeth or jaws.
  • Thumb Sucking: Prolonged thumb sucking or pacifier use can lead to the misalignment of teeth and jaws.
  • Poor Oral Habits: Tongue thrusting, mouth breathing, and improper swallowing can all contribute to malocclusion.
  • Early Tooth Loss: Losing baby teeth prematurely can disrupt the normal development of permanent teeth, leading to malocclusion.
  • Facial Injury: Trauma to the face or jaw can cause misalignment of the teeth and jaws.

Symptoms of Malocclusion

Recognizing the symptoms of malocclusion is essential for early detection and treatment. Some common symptoms include:

  • Crooked or crowded teeth
  • Difficulty in biting or chewing
  • Speech difficulties
  • Jaw pain or discomfort
  • Headaches
  • Protruding teeth
  • Self-esteem issues

Prevention of Malocclusion

While some causes of malocclusion, such as genetics, cannot be prevented, there are steps individuals can take to reduce the risk of developing this condition:

  • Practice good oral hygiene: Regular brushing, flossing, and dental check-ups can help maintain proper dental alignment.
  • Avoid thumb sucking: Encouraging children to stop thumb sucking at an early age can prevent malocclusion.
  • Correct oral habits: Addressing tongue thrusting, mouth breathing, and improper swallowing can help prevent misalignment.
  • Protect against facial injuries: Wearing appropriate protective gear during sports or activities that pose a risk of facial injury can reduce the chances of malocclusion.

Treatment Options for Malocclusion

Fortunately, there are various treatment options available to correct dental malocclusion:

Malocclusion Braces

Braces are a common treatment for malocclusion. They apply gentle pressure to gradually move the teeth into their proper positions. Braces can be made of metal, ceramic, or clear materials, depending on the individual’s preference.

Malocclusion Surgery

In severe cases of malocclusion, surgery may be required to correct the misalignment of the jaws. This option is typically considered when other treatments have not been successful.

Orthodontic Appliances

In addition to braces, orthodontic appliances such as headgear, palate expanders, and retainers may be used to correct specific types of malocclusion.

Extraction of Teeth

In some cases, the extraction of one or more teeth may be necessary to create enough space for proper alignment.

Early Intervention

Early detection and intervention are crucial in treating malocclusion. Orthodontic treatment can begin as early as age seven, allowing for better results and shorter treatment duration.


Dental malocclusion is a common condition that can cause various issues if left untreated. Understanding the different types, causes, and symptoms of malocclusion is essential for individuals seeking treatment. By practicing preventive measures and exploring the available treatment options, individuals can achieve proper dental alignment and improve their overall oral health and well-being.

Haroon Rashid, MD
Rate author
Urgent Care Center of Arlington, VA
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