Many different conditions can lead to the need for orthodontic treatment. Malocclusion is a condition referring to teeth that are not properly aligned. Occlusion refers to the alignment of teeth and the way that the upper and lower teeth fit together (bite).
Poorly aligned teeth are more prone to breaking or chipping and can also trap food particles that cause tooth decay and gum disease. In a study at the Baylor College of Dentistry, researchers found that malocclusion interferes with the chewing ability to break down foods. This can affect digestion and overall health. Finally, poorly arranged teeth detract from your smile which is one of the more important features contributing to facial beauty. You only have one chance to make that first impression.
Malocclusion is most often hereditary, however, there are other causes such as:
- Childhood habits such as thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, pacifier use beyond age 3, and prolonged use of a bottle
- Extra teeth, lost teeth, impacted teeth, or abnormally shaped teeth
- Ill-fitting dental fillings, crowns, appliances, retainers, or braces
- Misalignment of jaw fractures after a severe injury
- Tumors of the mouth and jaw