Malocclusion is a dental term that literally means bad bite. It results from teeth not fitting together for any number of reasons. Genetics is one of the primary causes. Many people inherit naturally straight teeth and are fortunate enough to be born with near perfect teeth. A significant number of people, however, are not so fortunate. They often have teeth that are too large for the available teeth in their jaws. As a result, these teeth grow in either crowded or crooked.
We also see teeth malocclusion being induced by other causes as well. Accidents commonly knock teeth out of alignment. Accidents can also knock a tooth completely out. The surrounding teeth then start to shift into the gap, becoming crooked in the process. Many children develop the bad habit of chewing and sucking on pencils or their thumbs, and the suction from this can cause teeth to shift. In adults, severe gum disease also can cause teeth to loosen and become misaligned.
Not only are their many causes of teeth malocclusion, there are also many types of this condition. If upper or lower jaws extend too far out, teeth may lack the sufficient space to grow straight, begin to crowd one another, and end up out of alignment. Sometimes, as we noted above, there simply is not enough room in the mouth and teeth naturally crowd one another. On the other hand, it is just as much of a problem to have too much space between teeth. As it often happens when a tooth is completely missing, teeth begin to shift into the empty space and grow out of alignment. Sometimes we even see people whose lower jaw extends farther out than their upper jaw, and one or more teeth on the top actually bite inside the lower teeth.
People who suffer from teeth malocclusion need to see a dentist as soon as possible. This condition can become severe enough that a person alters their eating habits. It will also become very noticeable when they smile and cause a great deal of embarrassment. Over a period of time, other problems with teeth being misaligned can lead to excessive cavities and jaw-joint problems. Many people have also reported that tooth malocclusion caused them headaches after it became difficult for them to open and close their mouths. Jaw muscles can become very sore from this condition, and many times teeth that are out of alignment can cause embarrassing clicking and popping sounds.
Teeth malocclusion must be treated with orthodontics. Up until recently, the only form of orthodontics available was traditional, banded orthodontics (braces). Patients treated with braces took an average of two years to see their alignment problems go away. In the meantime, they had to put up with the pain of having their braces adjusted, and they had to deal with the embarrassment of braces showing in their mouths when they smiled. Metal braces also made dental hygiene very difficult because so much of the teeth surfaces were covered by the bands and the wires.
Thankfully, this is no longer the case. Many new developments in dental science have made it possible for clear braces and removable aligners to correct teeth malocclusion with equal success to standard braces, and to get the job done in shorter periods of time. Cosmetic dental braces can be adjusted without pain, and virtually no one will see these clear or tooth-colored devices.
Some of these invisible braces are for short-term solutions to mild and moderate cases of teeth malocclusion. Others take longer to produce results, but are well worth the cosmetic benefits they offer. All of the newer clear and tooth-colored braces are smaller than traditional equivalents and make it much easier to maintain proper dental hygiene.
Cosmetic Dentistry is a specialized field that requires extensive knowledge and experience to be done correctly. The Medical Center Dental Group in Houston, Texas brings all of that and more to the direct benefit of each and every patient we treat. Although we are located in the world famous Houston Medical Center at Scurlock Towers, we routinely see dental patients who travel from Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, Beaumont Midland and Houston, Texas to see Dr. Dale Brant, Dr. Charles Campbell or Dr. Elizabeth OSullivan-Winslow for their cosmetic denistry services.
For any other questions related to cosmetic dentistry, you can Contact Us at 713.795.5905, visit our Dental Blog or Ask the Dentist