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Protecting All Children's Teeth (PACT): A Pediatric Oral Health Training Program
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Malocclusion: An abnormality in the coming together of teeth.

Malocclusion can be a functional problem, an aesthetic issue, or a hindrance to maintaining good oral hygiene.

Examples of malocclusion include anterior open bite, anterior crossbite, and posterior crossbite.

Anterior Open Bite: Vertical space between the upper and lower incisors resulting from opposing teeth failing to establish occlusal contact when the jaws are closed.
Anterior Crossbite: Malocclusion in which the maxillary incisors are posterior to (behind) the mandibular incisors.
Posterior Crossbite: Malocclusion in which the posterior maxillary molars or premolars are lingually displaced inside of the mandibular teeth.

Signs and symptoms of malocclusion include:

  • Abnormal alignment of teeth
  • Abnormal appearance of the face
  • Difficulty or discomfort when biting or chewing
  • Bruxism
Bruxism: The habit of unconsciously gritting or grinding the teeth especially in situations of stress or during sleep.

Malocclusion is usually genetic or congenital in origin.

Examples of genetic causes include congenital absence of teeth, cleft lip or palate, skeletal disorders, and muscular problems.

Malocclusion can also result from environmental factors, such as prolonged thumb sucking, pacifier use, or tongue thrusting. (Refer to Chapter 8: Oral Habits for more information.)

Patients with malocclusions should be referred to a dental professional.

Fast Facts
Malocclusion can be genetic in nature or result from prolonged oral habits.
Malocclusion may affect appearance or hinder eating and proper oral hygiene.
Referral to a dental professional is appropriate if a malocclusion is noted on examination.

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