Mal - occlusion literally means "poor closing"
or "bad bite." A bad bite can be caused by several factors:
A dental malocclusion occurs when the teeth are not lined up properly,
even though the jaws may be properly aligned.
Dental malocclusion caused by crowding
A skeletal malocclusion occurs when the upper and lower jaws don't
line up correctly.
Your teeth are not as fixed in place as you might think! Just
as a constant breeze can cause a tree to grow at an angle, repetitive
forces on your teeth can cause them to become "out of alignment."
- Thumbsucking can lead to an Open
- Tongue thrusting (pushing your tongue against your teeth) can
slowly, but surely, move your teeth out of alignment.
- Fingernail biting, or habitually biting or chewing on most objects,
can cause worn teeth.
- Mouth breathing: Breathing primarily through your mouth instead
of your nose can dry out the tissues of your mouth leading to
swollen and irritated gums. Also, the unnatural jaw alignment
of mouth breathing creates and imbalance that can lead to a malocclusion.
If mouth breathing is caused by blocked nasal passages, the obstruction
must be corrected as well to prevent a relapse.
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Grinding Teeth (Bruxism)
Severe cases of grinding teeth (bruxism)
can also change the occlusion. Most people who grind their teeth
do so in their sleep and therefore may be unaware of the problem.
Primary (baby) teeth that are prematurely lost due to decay or
injury sometimes necessitate the use of a spacer to keep the surrounding
teeth growing straight until the permanent tooth erupts to replace
the missing tooth. If missing permanent teeth are not replaced with
implants, a bridge,
or a partial denture, the adjacent
teeth can "tip" into the empty space and the opposing
teeth can "super-erupt" meaning they grow longer than
Correcting a malocclusion
Of course, more than one of the above factors may be involved,
so it is important to obtain a professional evaluation. Left untreated,
a malocclusion not only affects the patient's appearance, it can
also lead to TMJ problems and an increased
risk of decay and gum
evaluates each individual case to determine the best course of action
to prevent or cure the malocclusion.
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