Did you know there are different types of crooked teeth? Occlusion refers to the manner in which your upper and lower teeth fit in relation to each other. A healthy mouth with proper occlusion contains teeth that meet their opposites when your mouth is closed for optimal function and balance.
Malocclusion refers to a disturbance in this balance caused by one or more crooked teeth. The significance of malocclusion to your oral health is often underestimated, and its definition can differ from patient to patient.
Malocclusion, or improper bite alignment, is the main focus of the field of orthodontics and is often treated through the use of braces. If left untreated, the misalignment can place a great amount of undue stress on the components of your jaw (i.e., joints and muscles) as it opens and closes your mouth.
The strain can eventually damage your jaw, leading to moderate to severe TMJ disorder and difficulty biting, chewing, and speaking. Also, crooked teeth are more likely to facilitate dental diseases by providing hiding spots for harmful oral bacteria to hide.
Different Kinds of Malocclusion
Common cases of malocclusion include (but are not limited to);
Healthy upper teeth should naturally, but slightly, extend in front of your lower teeth by about 3-5mm. Beyond 5mm, the extension is considered an overbite, and is often informally referred to as “buck-teeth.”
As the name suggests, an underbite is the opposite of an overbite, and occurs when the lower teeth extend in front of the upper teeth. Underbites are typically more pronounced, and patients are at an increased risk for TMJ disorder and speech impediments.
For the pressure of your bite to be evenly dispersed, your teeth grow straight up and down to meet their opposites. A crossbite refers to one or more teeth that are angled inward (toward your tongue) or outward (toward your cheeks), instead of straight.