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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

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

Dear Dr. Iati (and all the nice folks at Stow Dental Group),

Just a note to say thanks again for making what could have been a traumatic ordeal into a pure pleasure. I am still amazed at how nice the whole experience of "going to the dentist" can be. I sure appreciate how hard you all work to make this happen. Your skill and expertise are only half of it. Your attitude and thoughtfulness are the rest. I have NEVER been to ANY medical facility that made me feel less like a symptom and more like a human being and I wanted you to know you are not taken for granted.

From the time I walked in the door to the time I left all of you treat me with the dignity and respect that make me feel good about my visits. No Kidding, I now look forward to my visits.

Thank you, Thank you, and Thank you.

Roy T.

Dear Dr. Iati,

I am writing this letter to thank you for all the great dental work that you have done to bring back my overall health and well being.

After having you and your team of professionals evaluate my condition and perform my dental work, I have realized what a life changing experience this has been for me and my family.

My past dental work left me with a missing tooth and a very unhealthy future. I fully expected to loose the remaining teeth I had at the time. After my first visit, I knew I had chosen the right dentist for my needs. I decided then and there that my entire family of four would move to your practice.

I can never thank you enough for what this has meant to me and my family but if this letter helps another family choose your practice, then I feel that I have helped others that may be in need of your dental skills and expertise.

Sincerely thankful, Richard Green

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