An abnormality in the coming together of teeth.Malocclusion
, or a misalignment of the teeth, can be a functional problem (eg, eating), an aesthetic issue, or a hindrance to maintaining good oral hygiene. Examples of malocclusion include
Vertical space between the upper and lower incisors resulting from opposing teeth failing to establish occlusal contact when the jaws are closed.
anterior open bite
Malocclusion in which the maxillary incisors are posterior to (behind) the mandibular incisors.
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, and
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.
Many malocclusions are not preventable, as they are genetic in nature. However, helping families address pacifier and thumb sucking issues at an early age may prevent or minimize this problem. (Refer to Chapter 8: Oral Habits
for more information.)
Patients with malocclusions should be referred to a dental professional. Physicians can also encourage patients treated by dental professionals to use prescribed appliances (eg, retainers) consistently and as directed by the dental professional.