What is a Malocclusion?

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 quite common, and most people experience some degree of malocclusion. The orthodontists at our Upper West Side dentist office treat malocclusions to make your smile look and feel better.

These are the 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 is a malocclusion caused by the lower teeth being positioned further forward than the upper teeth, also known as an underbite.  An underbite usually occurs when the jawbone is large or the maxillary bone is short.

Reasons for treating a malocclusion

A severe malocclusion can affect the comfort and appearance of the lower face. In more extreme cases, our orthodontist may collaborate with a maxillofacial dentist to rebuild the jaw. Both children and adults can benefit from treatment of a malocclusion. It is never too late to fix your bite and get the beautiful, straight teeth you've always wanted!

Some of the benefits of treating your malocclusion include:

  • Reduced risk of tooth decay – A malocclusion often causes an uneven wear pattern on the teeth and can lead to tooth erosion and decay.
  • Better oral hygiene – If the malocclusion is caused by overcrowding of the teeth, it can be difficult to properly clean the teeth and gums. Once teeth are straightened and properly spaced, flossing and brushing are much easier.
  • Reduced risk of TMJ – Malocclusion can have a negative effect on the joint and muscles of the jaw, possibly leading to TMJ disorder. Symptoms of TMJ disorder include headaches, facial pain, and grinding teeth. Prevent the pain of TMJ by correcting your misalignment!

Treatments for Malocclusions

Braces are the most common treatment of malocclusions. The orthodontist creates a personalized treatment plan for you by taking panoramic x-rays, conducting examinations, and taking impressions of your teeth. If you have an underbite, crossbite, or overbite, your orthodontist may use an orthodontic appliance such as:

  • Fixed multibracket braces – These consist of brackets cemented to each tooth with arch wires connecting the brackets.  The orthodontist will adjust or change the wires on a regular basis to train the teeth into proper alignment.
  • Removable devices – Retainers, headgear and palate expanders are some of the most common removable orthodontic devices.  They can either be used to move teeth or to hold them in place following orthodontic treatments such as mutlibracket braces.
  • Invisalign® – Invisalign works like regular braces, but they're a clear alternative. Our orthodontist uses a services of clear, nearly invisible retainers to fix your malocclusion. Not all patients are candidates for Invisalign®.

If you have any questions about malocclusions, please contact our Upper West Side dentist office at (212)799-5310.


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