Malocclusion is a common dental condition in which the upper and lower teeth don’t fit together correctly when the mouth is closed. This misalignment can cause problems with bite, speech, jaw function, tooth decay, and gum disease; it might even lead to headaches or earaches due to stress on the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). As such, malocclusion can not only seriously impact your oral health, but it can also potentially affect your quality of life. Thankfully, there are ways to treat malocclusion and manage its symptoms.
What Is Malocclusion And Its Types
There are different ways that misalignment can occur. With that in mind, malocclusion can be classified into the following types:
Overcrowding of the teeth can occur when there is not enough space in the jaw for them all. This often results in crooked, overlapping teeth, which may cause difficulty brushing and flossing properly. Because of this, overcrowding can lead to tooth decay and gum disease due to food particles becoming trapped in the small crevices between the teeth.
Overjet And Overbite
An overjet is when the upper front teeth extend outward further than the lower teeth. This can place extra strain on the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), leading to possible jaw pain and TMJ disorder. Similarly, an overbite occurs when the upper teeth overlap with the lower ones too much. This can interfere with proper chewing and speaking, as well as lead to bite problems.
Crossbite, Underbite And Open Bite
A crossbite occurs when the upper teeth close inside (or outside) of the lower teeth. This can cause wear, fractures, and gaps to form between the front teeth. Meanwhile, an underbite is when the lower teeth protrude beyond the upper ones. This can lead to difficulty eating and speaking, and jaw pain due to strain from closing your mouth. Finally, an open bite happens when the front teeth do not make contact with each other at all. This can lead to difficulty biting and chewing food properly.
Diastema is a space between two adjacent teeth. This can happen for several reasons, such as genetics or improper jaw development. Diastema is not necessarily an issue if it does not interfere with the alignment of other teeth or cause difficulty in speaking, but it can be aesthetically displeasing and lead to food becoming trapped in the gap.
Impacted Or Missing Tooth
Impacted teeth are teeth that fail to erupt correctly due to being blocked by other teeth or jawbone. This can cause severe pain, infection, and crowding of the surrounding teeth.
You may need to have your teeth removed because of tooth decay or gum disease. You can also lose teeth or have missing teeth due to injury or genetics. If you are missing teeth, it may cause shifting of the remaining teeth, resulting in malocclusion.
What Are The Common Causes Of Malocclusion?
Malocclusion can occur due to a variety of factors. Some of the most common causes include:
- Childhood Habits: Thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, and long-term use of a pacifier can cause your teeth to grow crooked or misaligned.
- Genetic Factors: Malocclusion can be caused by genetics; for example, a condition known as “mandibular prognathism” is inherited from parents. This occurs when the lower jaw protrudes outward more than the upper jaw.
- Bad Oral Habits: Poor dental hygiene can lead to tooth decay, which weakens the enamel and causes misalignment of the teeth. Not brushing twice a day, flossing daily, or regularly visiting the dentist can all contribute to poor dental hygiene.
- Missing Teeth And Injury: Missing teeth or broken bones in the jaw can cause malocclusion. Likewise, an injury to the face, such as a car accident, can also lead to misalignment of the teeth.
- Congenital Syndromes: Certain syndromes, such as Pierre Robin Syndrome or Down Syndrome, can cause malocclusion. These syndromes can affect the jaw’s growth and development, resulting in misalignment of the teeth.
Medical Conditions Associated With Teeth Misalignment
Certain medical conditions can also cause malocclusion. The following are some of the medical conditions most commonly associated with misalignment of teeth:
Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction
TMJ dysfunction occurs when the temporomandibular joint is not functioning correctly. This can result in pain, discomfort in the jaw, face, neck, and head, and difficulty eating or speaking. TMJ can cause teeth and jaw misalignment by altering the bite pattern, meaning that the teeth do not fit together properly. As a result, the joint and muscles around it can become strained, leading to further misalignment.
Sleep apnea is a disorder that causes the airways to become blocked while sleeping, resulting in pauses in breathing or shallow breaths. It can cause severe fatigue, headaches, and irritability. Furthermore, sleep apnea can lead to malocclusion due to the strain placed on the jaws and teeth while the airway is blocked.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a digestive disorder that causes the acidic liquid to flow back up into the esophagus, resulting in heartburn and chest pain. GERD can cause misalignment of the teeth due to the acid eroding away tooth enamel. When tooth enamel is weakened, the teeth become more susceptible to misalignment because they are not as strong and stable.
Periodontal disease occurs if the gums become infected and inflamed. This can lead to loss of bone in the jaw, resulting in loose or missing teeth and misalignment of the remaining ones.
When To Seek Medical Attention For Malocclusion Of The Teeth
Malocclusion isn’t always serious, but a dentist or orthodontist should always assess it to prevent it from becoming more severe. Keeping this in mind, if any of the following occur, it is essential to seek medical attention:
- Abnormal alignment of teeth: A slight misalignment of the teeth isn’t always a cause for concern; however, if there is a noticeable gap between the upper and lower front teeth or any other visible misalignment, it is best to seek medical attention. You should also visit a dentist if you notice that your teeth’ alignment is worsening over time.
- Discomfort when eating or biting: If there is pain or discomfort when eating or biting, it may be an indication that your teeth are misaligned, and you need to visit a dentist.
- Difficulty breathing through the mouth: Misalignment of the teeth can cause difficulty breathing through your mouth if the teeth are blocking the airway. This is a severe medical issue that should be addressed immediately.
- Clicking noises and pain when opening or closing the mouth: TMJ dysfunction can cause a clicking noise when opening or closing the mouth, as well as pain and discomfort in the jaw. If this is present, seeing a dentist and orthodontist is important.
- Headache accompanied by pain in the ear, jaw, and face: Headache accompanied by pain in the ear, jaw, and face could be a sign that your teeth are misaligned. If you’re experiencing pain in those areas, it is best to see a dentist for treatment.
Diagnosing And Classifying Malocclusions
Malocclusion of the teeth can be diagnosed by a dentist or orthodontist. During this process, they will assess the bite pattern and observe whether the teeth are not fitting together correctly. They will also look for any signs of shifting or crowding and check for any other oral health issues that could be causing the misalignment. They will do this exam by looking at X-rays, impressions of the teeth, and photographs of the face.
Specialists classify malocclusion based on its type and severity. The severity of the malocclusion is determined by how much the teeth are misaligned and how far they have shifted from their original position. Malocclusion is generally categorized into one of the following three classifications:
Class 1 Malocclusion: Neutrocclusion
This is the most common type of malocclusion and occurs when there is minimal misalignment of the teeth. The upper and lower jaw line up normally, but the bite may be slightly off-center. There may also be other anomalies with the teeth, such as gaps, overlapping, overcrowding, or asymmetry.
Class 2 Malocclusion: Distocclusion
Distocclusion occurs when the upper jaw is further forward than the lower jaw, resulting in a protruding upper jaw. This type of malocclusion generally requires more treatment and can lead to difficulty speaking or eating.
Class 3 Malocclusion: Mesiocclusion
Mesiocclusion occurs when the lower jaw has a retrusion (or underbite). This can lead to difficulty in chewing, speaking, and even breathing. It also requires more treatment than neutrocclusion or distocclusion.
How To Treat Malocclusion
The treatment for malocclusion of the teeth depends on the type and severity of the misalignment. The following are the primary types of treatments for malocclusion:
Tooth Aligners Or Braces
Braces or aligners are used to gradually move the teeth into their correct position. They can be either metal braces, ceramic braces, or clear plastic aligners that fit over the teeth. The type of braces used depends on the severity of misalignment and how long it is expected to take to correct it.
Removal Of Teeth In Case Of Overcrowding
In some cases, teeth may need to be removed to make room for the other teeth to move into their correct position. This is usually done if the overcrowding is severe or the misalignment cannot be corrected using tooth aligners or braces.
Surgery For Severe Jaw Alignment
In severe cases, surgery may be required to correct severe malocclusion due to jaw alignment issues. This may involve repositioning or reshaping the bones of the jaw to achieve a more ideal bite and facial structure. Surgery can also involve the use of implants or other prosthetics to correct jawbone misalignment.
Neurofunctional Pain Management Protocol To Manage Pain Induced By Malocclusion
Although there are several orthodontic methods for treating the malocclusion of teeth, dealing with some of the accompanying symptoms can also be challenging. At Neuragenex, we provide a Neurofunctional Pain Management approach to treating pain induced by malocclusion. Instead of depending on pain medications, we offer non-invasive and drug-free treatment solutions that address the root cause of your chronic pain, thereby providing more effective long-term relief.
Our Neuragenex protocol involves a whole-person approach to assess the underlying cause of your malocclusion-induced pain and develop an individualized plan for its successful treatment. Included in our pain management plan is the use of the following modalities, all of which are non-opioid, drug-free, non-invasive, and non-chiropractic solutions that can treat various symptoms and conditions (such as TMJ) that may be the result of malocclusion.
Electroanalgesia is a pain management technique that uses high-pulse electrical current to ease pain, boost blood circulation, improve mobility, and induce...
IV nutritional therapy, or intravenous therapy, involves administering vital nutrients directly to the bloodstream through an IV. This type of treatment bypasses the digestive system, allowing for maximum absorption and utilization of nutrients by the...
Lifestyle counseling is an approach to managing chronic pain that involves identifying, assessing, and modifying lifestyle factors contributing to an individual's pain. For example, lifestyle factors such as nutrition, physical activity, stress, sleep quality...
Conditions We Treat in Neuragenex
Managing Your Pain And Influence Your Overall Well Being
Malocclusion of the teeth can cause a range of symptoms, including chronic pain, and should be treated appropriately. If you are experiencing pain or discomfort in your jaw, face, or ears, then it is essential to visit the dentist right away. A specialist can diagnose and classify the malocclusion and provide an appropriate treatment plan.
Although various dental treatments are available, from tooth aligners and braces to surgical interventions, to help address the misalignment of your upper or lower teeth, managing the accompanying symptoms can be challenging, especially if you’re limited to more conventional treatment solutions. Fortunately, at Neuragenex, we use a safe and effective Neurofunctional Pain Management Protocol to help manage any pain associated with teeth misalignment.
Maintaining good dental hygiene and visiting the dentist regularly is vital to prevent any problems with your teeth. If you experience pain associated with malocclusion, see a doctor as soon as possible to determine if an underlying condition needs to be addressed.
Experience relief from the discomfort of teeth misalignment.