Malocclusion: An Introduction
An important part of one’s skeletal development is a functional and healthy formation of their occlusion, or more commonly known as their “bite.” More specifically, occlusion refers to how the top and bottom teeth fit together. Normally, the occlusion of a typical human is molars fitting together normally with the upper front teeth (the incisors and canines) slightly overlapping the bottom front teeth. Though the majority of the time people have a normal occlusion, it is common for malocclusion (a “bad bite”) to occur. If the malocclusion is mild then no action will be required; however, in some severe cases, orthodontic treatment and/or corrective jaw surgery might be necessary. Some of the most common forms of malocclusion are listed below.
There are two major classifications of malocclusion:
- Dental Malocclusion
- Skeletal Malocclusion
The dental malocclusion is the usual incorrectness in positioning of teeth and is what braces and other corrective procedures attempt to address. A skeletal malocclusion is when the issue involving tooth alignment resides in an improper positioning or size and shape of a patient’s jaw bone. While most cases of this issue are accompanied by virtually no real difficulties or discomforts, there are cases where the misalignment can cause bigger problems and call for corrective jaw surgery.
Common Malocclusion Forms
Open Bite — An open bite occurs when the molars of a patient’s mouth fit normally, but the upper front teeth don’t overlap the bottom front teeth, leaving a significant gap straight into the mouth on either side.
Overbite — An overbite occurs when the upper front teeth overlap too far down over the bottom front teeth. In these scenarios, the upper part of the jaw is too far forward. In severe cases the bottom teeth can be positioned so far back that they might actually bite into the roof of your mouth.
Underbite — An underbite is essentially the opposite of an overbite. In this scenario, your bottom lower teeth actually project out farther forward than your upper front teeth.
Problems with Spacing and Crowding — Sometimes the positioning of the jaw is fine, but when there is too much or too little room for your teeth, spacing or crowding problems can occur, which can result in a malocclusion.
Crossbite — A crossbite occurs when any of the upper teeth fit on the wrong side of the bottom teeth.
…And More — There are additional types of malocclusion, so if you feel your occlusion is abnormal and not listed here, our Patient Service team will be more than happy to assist you in answering questions and/or scheduling a consultation.
Whether a malocclusion or jaw disorder was brought on by genetics or an external environmental factor, such as excessive thumb sucking or severe facial trauma, our Oral and Maxillofacial team of surgeons can help identify and correct your jaw alignment. Contact Austin Oral Surgery today to set up a consultation.