Orthodontic irregularities stem from a variety of factors, which can include inherited traits and problems which developed from habits, such as thumb-sucking and tongue thrusting. These irregularities interfere with normal chewing, biting and speaking functions, in addition to negatively impacting the appearance of teeth.
Malocclusions (bad bites) can affect the dental and physical health of the patient. Digestive disorders, tooth loss, tooth decay and gum disease have all been correlated with dental malalignment. Fortunately, orthodontic treatments are predictable and incredibly successful. Once a firm diagnosis has been made, your oral health professional can commence effective treatment.
Here is a brief overview of some of the most common orthodontic conditions:
Overcrowding occurs when there is limited or no available space for permanent teeth to erupt and align properly. As a result of such crowding, some teeth may twist, become impacted or grow in a crooked manner. The crowding of teeth is also known as a Type I malocclusion. Though overcrowding is generally considered less serious than other types of irregularities, it tends to look unappealing and hinders efforts to thoroughly brush and floss teeth.
An overbite is present when the upper arch of teeth projects further than lower teeth. In a more serious case, the lower teeth are completely overlapped. An overbite is also called anterior overlap, a Class II retrogathism or a deep bite. Signs of an overbite include a protruding upper lip, a gummy smile and the noticeable wearing of front teeth.
An underbite, as the name may indicate, is the reverse of an overbite, where the lower teeth are projected further than the upper teeth. Other names for an underbite include a Class III prognathism and a negative overjet. In many cases, the cause of an underbite is either a short upper jaw bone or an excessively large lower jaw bone. Signs of an underbite include a protruding lower lip and a chin that appears overly large.
In many cases, an underbite also gives rise to a crossbite. Crossbite is the tilting of the lower teeth in relation to the upper teeth. This causes the upper teeth to hit the lower teeth on the tongue side, as opposed to the outside. Crossbite can also occur alone and cause uneven wear patterns on the teeth.
If you have any questions about orthodontic conditions, please contact your dental health professional.