What is dental malocclusion?
Dental malocclusion is the incorrect alignment of the teeth. The patient presents a difference in size between jaws or between jaw and tooth. When a person suffers from dental malocclusion, the upper teeth do not fit into the bite properly with the lower teeth.
There are three types of malocclusions:
- Transverse malocclusions: consists of excessive narrowing of the upper jaw, which causes a crossbite on one side or both sides.
- Vertical malocclusions: identified by the absence of contact between the upper and lower incisors or, in the opposite case, excessive overlapping of the upper and lower incisors.
- Sagittal malocclusions: these are classified according to the relationship of the permanent molars in the anterior-posterior direction. The lower molar is more advanced than the upper molar, with an inverted bite of the incisors. It is characterized by a prominent chin profile.
Prognosis of the disease
It is important that dental malocclusion is diagnosed and treated early. Childhood is the ideal time to treat or prevent malocclusions, since they can be corrected more easily. If no action is taken, they can appear or worsen.
If treatment is not carried out in time, the patient may require more complicated interventions in the future. Alterations of the different oral functions, such as phonation, breathing, chewing, etc., can also occur.
Dental malocclusions can cause ringing in the ears, dizziness, sinus pain and headaches.
Malocclusions produce alterations in oral functions.
Symptoms of dental malocclusion
The main symptoms are deviated, crowded or protruding teeth. This causes problems with eating and speaking. We can also identify other less obvious symptoms such as:
- Discomfort when chewing food.
- Regular pain in the facial muscles or jaw.
- Breathing through the mouth without closing the lips.
- Frequent cheek biting.
Medical tests for dental malocclusion
A patient who has symptoms of dental malocclusion should see a specialist for diagnosis. This diagnosis will consist of:
- Complete review of the clinical history.
- Clinical examination of the patient: examination of the oral cavity and review of the structures.
- Radiographic examination (if necessary).
What are the causes of dental malocclusion?
The appearance of dental malocclusion can be due to different causes. The main ones are:
- Hereditary factors.
- Loss of teeth.
- Breathing through the mouth.
- Thumb sucking.
- Using a bottle or pacifier for an excessive amount of time.
- Children with baby teeth occupy little space and, as the permanent teeth grow, they take up more space than there is.
Can it be prevented?
To prevent malocclusion it is important to avoid bad habits such as those mentioned above (excessive use of pacifiers or bottles, mouth breathing or thumb sucking).
The following factors should also be taken into account:
- Feeding: when a child is already able to chew hard foods, it is important to replace the soft diet with a more solid one.
- Tooth decay and fractures: good oral hygiene habits, such as using a proper toothbrush or using fluoride, will allow the child to have healthy tissues and maintain them in the future.
- Maintain space and arch length: if one or more teeth are lost unnaturally, it is important to maintain space by using space maintainers.
- Bruxism: monitoring and reversing the habit of clenching or grinding the teeth.
Treatments for dental malocclusion
Treatment for dental malocclusion consists of the use of fixed or removable appliances to correct the alignment of the teeth and the position of the jaw.
In children and adolescents it may also be necessary to extract some baby teeth to make room for those that have yet to grow in. Child malocclusion is easier to correct than adult malocclusion because bone growth is still in the developmental stage. With the use of the aforementioned appliances, the teeth are straightened and the jaw moves. On the other hand, in adulthood the teeth can be aligned by orthodontics but the position of the jaws can only be modified with orthognathic surgery.
Which specialist treats it?
Dental malocclusion should be treated by a dental specialist. In Top Doctors’ medical directory you can find the specialist that best suits your needs.