What procedures help treat malocclusion?

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There are various options to treat malocclusion depending on the nature of the Malocclusion (mild/moderate/severe). Teeth need to come together properly in order to function in a healthy manner and last you a long time. Sometimes a bite just needs to be equilibrated so they come together more evenly. In mild to moderate misaligned or crooked teeth conditions can usually be treated with orthodontics. In more severe malocclusion cases, when the upper and lower jaw don't line up properly, surgery is required to move the jaw in a better position.

Robert E. Patterson, DDS
Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopedics
Malocclusion is defined as a deviation from an "ideal" occlusion or bite. Generally, malocclusion is either dental, skeletal, or both. All of these malocclusions are treated by an orthodontist, a dental specialist specifically trained to treat malocclusions.

A dental malocclusion is due to teeth being in an incorrect position within the jaws. This can happen from early loss of baby teeth without space maintenance, lack of space for all of the adult teeth, and oral habits such as thumb-sucking, mouth-breathing, tongue thrust, etc. Dental malocclusion can be corrected orthodontically through metal or ceramic (clear) braces, clear aligners such as Invisalign, and lingual braces. Correction of dental malocclusion may or may not involve extraction of permanent teeth to create space.

A skeletal malocclusion has more to do with the relationship of the jaws, whether one jaw is too small or too large, or if the jaws are in the wrong position. Skeletal malocclusions can be corrected orthopedically at an early enough age (with headgear) or surgically after growth is finished. Generally, if a patient has a skeletal malocclusion, it is best to correct it at a young age before growth has finished. It is best to have children visit their orthodontist starting at age 7 to identify if such an issue exists.

Sometimes, with a combination of dental and skeletal malocclusions, a "camouflage" treatment can take place, where certain adult teeth are removed to correct the dental malocclusion without correcting the skeletal malocclusion.
A malocclusion is a bad bite, which means teeth are crowded or crooked. In some cases, the upper and lower jaws may not meet properly and although the teeth may appear straight, the individual may have an uneven bite.

If your teeth are crooked, they may be straightened by braces. Braces can help improve your smile and make your teeth straighter. Braces come in many different styles, including tooth-colored plastic braces that are less noticeable or traditional metal braces. Sometimes removable clear retainers are used to straighten teeth. Talk to your dentist to see what the best choice is for you.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.