By Newspaper Toolbox
Malocclusion is a misalignment between the upper and lower rows of teeth as they approach when the mouth closes. Normally, the canines and maxillary (or upper) incisors fall in front of the lower teeth, leaving a small space in between with little overlap. In the case of malocclusion, however, the upper teeth fall too far behind or in front of the lower teeth.
While malocclusion is often hereditary, other contributing factors exist, such as:
• Missing, crowded or misaligned teeth
• Excessive thumb sucking
or prolonged pacifier use
• Mouth breathing
• Abnormal swallowing
• A cleft palate
Malocclusion can have a significant impact on a person’s oral and overall health. Poor dental occlusion (how the upper and lower teeth touch when the mouth is closed) can make chewing more difficult and lead to premature wear of teeth, in addition to causing muscular tension, jaw pain, digestive problems, migraines and troubles enunciating. Bruxism (grinding or clenching of the teeth) can also result in malocclusion.
Furthermore, not only do crooked or overlapping teeth cause aesthetic issues, but they’re particularly difficult to brush, increasing the risk of cavities and gum disease. Thankfully, various treatments (braces, oral surgery, etc.) are available for people of all ages to help correct dental problems like malocclusion. Consult your orthodontist or dentist for more information!