All You Need to Know About Malocclusion
What is Malocclusion?
If you suffer from an uneven smile you might be experiencing difficulty chewing your food or cleaning your teeth. Malocclusion is the misalignment of your upper and lower arches of teeth. This causes you to develop an overbite or underbite and oftentimes causes your individual teeth to shift as well.
The term is derived from the word occlusion, which means the general alignment of your teeth. The term “mal” means bad or abnormal, which is why the term translates to the bad alignment of your teeth.
Causes of Malocclusion
Malocclusion can occur in both children and adults. Sometimes the disorder can be caused by genetics, and a child can be born with an overbite or underbite. Othertimes malocclusion can be caused by bad habits or oral problems such as:
- Thumbsucking or pacifier sucking during early childhood
- Missing teeth
- Irregular teeth
- Mouth tumors
- Incorrect dental treatments such as fillings or braces
- Injuries to the mouth
- Airway obstruction
Symptoms of Malocclusion
The symptoms of malocclusion can affect your oral health, teeth functionality, and overall health. It can cause problems while chewing, which can result in uneven wear of the teeth or accidentally biting your tongue or cheek.
Malocclusion can also cause problems in your speech and breathing, which can lead to sleeping disorders. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s crucial that you contact a dentist such as Dr. Rosie Aviles to seek treatment.
Can Malocclusion Result in Sleep Apnea?
What many people may not realize, is that the position of your teeth or tongue can affect your quality of sleep. Malocclusion can cause your mouth to become overcrowded due to the shifting of your teeth and jaw.
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that affects about 22 million Americans. It occurs when you experience an obstruction in your airway, causing you to wake up frequently throughout your sleep as you gasp for air.
Uneven teeth can push your tongue to the back of your mouth, obstructing your airway while you sleep. Malocclusion can also alter your breathing and cause snoring, which is another symptom of sleep apnea.
Since sleep apnea can lead to more serious health conditions such as cardiovascular problems, it’s recommended that you seek out a sleep dentist such as Dr. Katz to further discuss your sleep issues and possible treatment options.
Other Risks of Untreated Malocclusion
While malocclusion can be more severe in some patients than others, anyone experiencing itis at risk for serious problems with their health and appearance. If left untreated, these patients may experience issues that affect their lives every day.
Malocclusion pushes one or both of your arches forward. To compensate, your lips have to stretch over your teeth which can alter your appearance. If the malocclusion is severe or your mouth is overcrowded, your lips may not be able to fully close over your teeth.
Your dental health can be greatly affected by the disorder as well. This misalignment of your jaw can put you at risk for tooth or loss and permanent facial structure changes.
Treatment Methods for Malocclusion
In order to treat your malocclusion and avoid putting yourself at risk for serious problems, seeing a specialist such as an orthodontist is essential. Your orthodontist will take X-rays of your mouth and jaw to determine the severity of your disorder and decide which treatment option is best for you. They may even choose to combine multiple treatment methods.
When your malocclusion is severe or making your teeth become crooked, your orthodontist will likely recommend treating it with braces. The purpose of braces is to fully straighten and align your teeth. They do this by using brackets and wires to put pressure on your teeth and gradually shift them into place.
The patient will typically have to wear their braces for around two years to successfully treat and eliminate their condition. After this treatment, wearing a retainer may be necessary to hold them in place.
Sometimes, there isn’t enough room in the patient’s jaw for all of their teeth so they become crowded, pushed together, and crooked. In these cases, an orthodontist may need to extract one or more teeth to make for the rest to be straightened. This may be done in addition to braces to move the teeth into proper alignment
While it’s sometimes genetic, preventing malocclusion is possible. For children, parents should take proper actions to limit the risk of malocclusion by advising them not to suck their thumbs and taking away pacifiers at an early age.
Adults should be mindful of their own actions as well. Visiting a dentist regularly is a great way to ensure their teeth aren’t shifting for any reason. While adult malocclusion is caused mostly by unpreventable reasons, managing the health of their teeth can help
If you’re experiencing changes in your daily functions and think your teeth are affecting your breathing or sleep, seek help from a specialist such as Dr. Buchanan.
Finding relief from malocclusion early on can save you from experiencing the serious risks of the condition.