Malocclusion and Improper Bite
Frequently Asked Questions (Click on Questions to See Answers)
A – In his study of Orthodontics, Edward Angle termed Occlusion for the way in which opposite upper and lower teeth meet or align – otherwise known as “bite”. The contours of upper teeth that protect the cheeks and lips fit the contours of the lower teeth that protect the tongue below them. When the upper teeth do not fit just over the lower teeth properly in bite, this is referred to as misalignment or malocclusion, which can affect how the jaw, teeth, cheeks, lips and tongue function.
A – Malocclusion and irregular bite commonly arise from hereditary conditions, such as cleft lip and palate and Down Syndrome, causing differences in tooth and jaw shape, size and structure. Other contributing causes are injuries to the jaw, tumors, lost teeth, overcrowding of teeth, incorrect fitting orthodontic treatments or appliances, or prolonged habits during childhood, such as bottle and thumb sucking or tongue thrusting. Bite problems can also arise when dental treatment is not sought soon after tooth loss or facial injury.
A – Malocclusion or improper bite is easily identifiable by our resident dentist at your dental examination. If you experience discomfort when chewing or pronouncing words during speech, such as lisping, these may be indications of malocclusion. Other signs may be breathing through the mouth or irregular facial form. Should you feel concerned about your or a dependent's speech, chewing, facial shape and symmetry, or teeth bite, contact our resident dentist for an examination appointment, and to address your concerns.
A – Cases of malocclusion are categorised into three states or classes: In Class One the upper teeth overlap the lower teeth; In Class Two the upper jaw and teeth excessively overlap the lower jaw and teeth in severe overbite termed “retrognathism”; In Class Three the lower jaw and teeth overlap the upper jaw and teeth in underbite termed “prognathism”.
A – The type of orthodontic treatment recommended will depend on the diagnosis and class of malocclusion affecting the individual. Class One malocclusion may be treatable with braces to correct the position of the teeth, and there are different choices of braces systems available. These systems include standard metal braces, STb Lingual, STb Light Lingual, STb Social 6 Lingual, Simpli5, Invisalign, Inman Aligners, Damon braces, Invu and Six-Month Smiles.
These choices of braces serve different functions that include friction-reduction such as Damon braces, speech improvement such as the Lingual system, facial aesthetics such as the Invisalign and Inman Aligners, and there are also fixed braces.
Minor cases of malocclusion as in Class One can also be treated with bonded Lumineers or porcelain veneers after teeth are reshaped. More severe cases impacting the jaw as in Class Two and Three, may require orthodontic appliances or surgery to correct bite and as part of facial reconstruction. These orthodontic appliances are either functional, fixed or removable and include headgear, brackets and plates respectively. Treatment can range from six months to two years.
A – An initial examination by our resident dentist is needed to diagnose the condition of your teeth and jaw structure. Diagnostic methods include X-rays, CT scans or CEREC technology. Our resident dentist provides you with an overview of your dental health and recommends treatments needed to re-align your teeth.
If you decide to proceed with treatment, an appointment will be made for you. Depending on your diagnosis, the treatment may range from removable or fixed braces, retainers or invisible braces to other corrective orthodontic appliances or surgery.
When treatment is commenced, your teeth are first cleaned and prepared to protect against decay and gum disease. Some treatments, such as Lumineers, for very mild cases of malocclusion, can be completed within a day. Others, such as custom-made orthodontic appliances, may take time to be fabricated before adjustment and fitting.
Braces are fabricated according to specification when your teeth are mapped such as with CEREC technology. Our resident dentist will then fit your selected braces system and show you how to care for your braces throughout the treatment duration.
Our resident dentist will fully explain all treatment procedures to you so that you are comfortable in understanding what to expect. If you feel apprehensive about treatment, please discuss your feelings with our resident dentist who can provide you with relaxation techniques and options.
A – Treating misaligned teeth is important because straightening teeth and correcting bite makes cleaning teeth easier, reducing the risk of tooth decay and gum or priodontal diseases. Malocclusion places pressure on the facial muscles, jaws and teeth that can cause tooth breakage or structural deformities that affect facial appearance and expression. This can cause people to lack confidence or avoid smiling.
Not only can malocclusion impact speech pronunciation for communications but can also cause chewing discomfort that impacts diet choices and nutrition levels. Malocclusion, therefore affects dental, physical and mental health, and should be corrected for overall patient care.
A – Not treating malocclusion or improper bite can cause dental, physical and mental health to deteriorate. It is better to act sooner rather than later to reduce risk of poor health that can also cause increased stress and accumulated cost when treatment is eventually received. Although opting out from receiving treatment is an option, it is not considered safe to do so because of harm to overall wellbeing.
A – Misaligned teeth place strain on the teeth of the upper and lower jaw, including the muscles of the jaw functioning for bite in chewing and communication. The excessive pressure on certain teeth can cause wear or gum irritation resulting in tooth decay, tooth loss or gum disease.
Oral pressures can also cause neurological conditions like migraine headaches if nerves are damaged. Infections in the mouth can spread in the blood stream to other parts of the body resulting in hypertension or heart disease. Malocclusion may also be signs of more serious health conditions, such as tumors, that if left undiagnosed can result in hemorrhage, stroke or death. Unchecked misaligned teeth can place overall health at risk. Seeking dental treatment for malocclusion promotes wellbeing.
A – Often malocclusion occurs due to genetic conditions, injury, or may be a sign of other health conditions, such as tumors. By making an appointment with a dentist, such as our resident dentist, for an examination, you can receive a diagnosis on the condition of your teeth and jaw structure with suitable recommended treatments.
Malocclusion cannot simply be corrected through oral hygiene practices, such as tooth brushing techniques and dental cleanliness. Problems with improper bite need orthodontic treatment that only a qualified dentist can identify and treat. If you feel anxious about treatment, contact our resident dentist who will help you address your fears through consultation and relaxation techniques.
A – The cost of treatments for malocclusion or improper bite largely depends on the type of diagnosis and recommended treatments. Different dental practices may provide only certain orthodontic treatments and cost plans. Our resident dentist can advise you on available treatments, pricing structures and payment plans for affordable dental treatment.