What is a Malocclusion?

A malocclusion is an incorrect relationship between the maxilla (upper arch) and the mandible (lower arch), or a general misalignment of the teeth.  Malocclusions are so common that most individuals experience one, to some degree.  The poor alignment of the teeth is thought to be a result of genetic factors combined with poor oral habits, or other factors in the early years.

Moderate malocclusion commonly requires treatment by an orthodontist.  Orthodontists are dentists who specialize in the treatment of malocclusions and other facial irregularities.

The following are three main classifications of malocclusion:

  • Class I – The occlusion is typical, but there are spacing or overcrowding problems with the other teeth.

  • Class II – The malocclusion is an overbite (the upper teeth are positioned further forward than the lower teeth).  This can be caused by the protrusion of anterior teeth or the overlapping of the central teeth by the lateral teeth.

  • Class III – Prognathism (also known as “underbite”) is a malocclusion caused by the lower teeth being positioned further forward than the upper teeth.  An underbite usually occurs when the jawbone is large or the maxillary bone is short.

Reasons for treating a malocclusion

A severe malocclusion may lead to skeletal disharmony of the lower face.  In a more extreme case, the orthodontist may work in combination with a maxillofacial dentist to reconstruct the jaw.  It is never too late to seek treatment for a malocclusion.  Children and adults alike have completed orthodontic realignment procedures and have been delighted with the resulting even, straight smile.

Here are some of the main reasons to seek orthodontic treatment for a malocclusion:

  • Reduced risk of tooth decay – A malocclusion often causes an uneven wear pattern on the teeth.  The constant wearing of the same teeth can lead to tooth erosion and decay.

  • Better oral hygiene – A malocclusion can be caused by overcrowding.  When too many teeth are competing for too little space, it can be difficult to clean the teeth and gums effectively.  It is much easier to clean straight teeth that are properly aligned.

  • Reduced risk of TMJ – Temporomandibular jaw syndrome (TMJ) is thought to be caused by a malocclusion.  Headaches, facial pains and grinding teeth during sleep all result from the excessive pressure to the temporomandibular joint.  Realigning the teeth reduces pressure, and eliminates these symptoms.

How is a malocclusion treated?

A malocclusion is usually treated with dental braces.  The orthodontist takes panoramic x-rays, conducts visual examinations and bite impressions of the whole mouth before deciding on the best course of treatment.  If a malocclusion is obviously caused by overcrowding, the orthodontist may decide an extraction is the only way to create enough space for the realignment.  However, in the case of an underbite, crossbite or overbite, there are several different orthodontic appliances available, such as:

  • Fixed multibracket braces – This type of dental braces consists of brackets cemented to each tooth, and an archwire that connects each one.  The orthodontist adjusts or changes the wire on a regular basis to train the teeth into proper alignment.

  • Removable devices – There are many non-fixed dental braces available to treat a malocclusion.  Retainers, headgear and palate expanders are amongst the most common.  Retainers are generally used to hold the teeth in the correct position whilst the jawbone grows properly around them.

  • Invisalign® – These dental aligners are removable and invisible to the naked eye.  Invisalign works in much the same way as fixed dental braces, but do not impact the aesthetics of the smile.  Not all patients are candidates for Invisalign®.

If you have any questions about malocclusions, please contact our office.

Testimonials.

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Testimonials

Thirteen years ago I decided that I wanted to improve my smile. There were missing teeth and spaces, the ones I did have didn’t sparkle. I pulled out my telephone book and went to the yellow pages looking for a cosmetic dentist. There he was, Dr Eric Schikowski and Stow Dental. I called and made an appointment for a consultation. The staff and Dr Schikowski were amazing, they made me feel very comfortable. I explained why I was there and what I was looking for and a plan to improve my smile was in the works. The end result of all their hard work was I had a beautiful smile. When I am asked about my teeth I give out Dr Schikowski’s name and telephone number. The way a person feels about themselves shows when they have a beautiful smile, your confidence is beaming. Dr Schikowski and his staff do is change lives for the better. I love you all!!

Susie

Getting veneers at Stow Dental Group has been a wonderful experience. The procedure is relatively painless and the results are spectacular! Dr. Thompson and his entire staff are kind, caring and extremely professional. I can't stop smiling!

Sandy C.

Trust, is the word that comes to mind when I think of Dr. Iati and his staff. Being a one of a kind patient and asking for a 'Masterpiece Smile' was no easy task. To top things off, I moved to Newport Coast, California in the middle of my procedure.

I could have easily selected another dentist and joined the Hollywood Stars, but I knew Dr. Iati had a mission that no other could accurately attempt to complete. It wasn't just slapping on veneers for a sparkling white smile. It was a complete adjustment of my bite. Even after Dr. Iati suggested we select a dentist in my area to help with the procedure, I refused and was willing to travel back and forth to accomplish our goal.

No other doctor or dentist has ever been as concerned about me as a patient and I was not about to give that up. He personally called me at home after each procedure; he would check up on me through email or a phone call just to see how I was feeling or if there was any change. When I was down and complaining, he would listen and help me through it.

Now, I feel it was well worth the wait. I have no more headaches or jaw pain, just that 'Masterpiece Smile' I requested when I first sat in his chair. Mission Accomplished! Thanks, Dr. Iati!!

Jan B. Newport Coast, CA

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