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
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 bite.
- 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.
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 is natural.
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 disease.
Dr. Ledner or Dr. Zaiff
evaluates each individual case to determine the best course of action
to prevent or cure the malocclusion.
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Dental WebSmith, Inc.
and Elliot Ledner, DDS, Janet Zaiff, DDS, PC. All rights reserved worldwide.
Disclaimer: The information provided within
is intended to help you better understand dental conditions and procedures.
It is not meant to serve as delivery of medical or dental care. If you have
specific questions or concerns, contact your health care provider.