Malocclusion of the Teeth

By Medically reviewed by hellodoktor


What is Malocclusion of the Teeth?

Occlusion is a term that is used to refer to the alignment of your teeth. Ideally, your teeth should fit easily within your mouth without any crowding or spacing issues. Also, none of your teeth should be rotated or twisted. The teeth of your upper jaw should slightly overlap the teeth of your lower jaw so that the pointed ridges of your molars fit into the groves of the opposite molar.

Deviations from ideal occlusion are known as malocclusion. The type of deviation varies, but any type of misalignment can cause issues. Alignment of upper teeth is needed to prevent the cheeks and lips from being bitten, while alignment of lower teeth is needed to protect the tongue from being bitten.

How common is Malocclusion of the Teeth?

Malcocclusion of the teeth is a common problem. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.


What are the symptoms of Malocclusion of the Teeth?

The common symptoms of Malocclusion of the Teeth are:

  • Abnormal alignment of teeth
  • Abnormal appearance of the face
  • Difficulty or discomfort when biting or chewing
  • Speech difficulties (rare), including lisp
  • Mouth breathing (breathing through the mouth without closing the lips)
  • Inability to bite into food correctly (open bite)

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.


What causes Malocclusion of the Teeth?

Most of the time, malocclusion of the teeth is a inherited condition, which means it can be passed down from parents to children. However, certain conditions may change the alignment of the teeth. These include:

  • Cleft lip and palate
  • Frequent use of a pacifier after the age of 3
  • Prolonged use of bottle feeding in early childhood
  • Thumb sucking in early childhood
  • Injuries that result in the misalignment of the jaw
  • Tumors in the mouth or jaw
  • Abnormally shaped or impacted teeth
  • Poor dental care that results in improperly fitting dental fillings, crowns, or braces
  • Airway obstruction (mouth breathing), potentially caused by allergies or by enlarged adenoids or tonsils

Risk factors

What increases my risk for Malocclusion of the Teeth?

There are many risk factors for Malocclusion of the Teeth, such as:

  • Physical factors such as absence of teeth, problems with teeth development, muscular imbalances, etc.
  • Behavioral factors such as sucking habit,
  • Injuries or diseases and treatment related
  • Socioenvironmental issues such as child abuse and neglect.

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is Malocclusion of the Teeth diagnosed?

Malocclusion of teeth is typically diagnosed through routine dental exams. Your dentist will examine your teeth and may perform dental X-rays to determine if your teeth are properly aligned. If malocclusion is detected, it will be classified by its type and severity. There are three major classes of malocclusion:

Class 1

Class 1 malocclusion is diagnosed when the upper teeth overlap the lower teeth. In this type of malocclusion, the bite is normal and the overlap is slight. Class 1 malocclusion is the most common classification of malocclusion.

Class 2

Class 2 malocclusion is diagnosed when a severe overbite is present. This condition, known as retrognathism (or retrognathia), means that the upper teeth and jaw significantly overlap the lower jaw and teeth.

Class 3

Class 3 malocclusion is also diagnosed when there’s a severe underbite. This condition, known as prognathism, means that the lower jaw protrudes forward. This causes the lower teeth to overlap the upper teeth and jaw.

How is Malocclusion of the Teeth treated?

Very few people have perfect teeth alignment. However, most problems are minor and do not require treatment.

Malocclusion is the most common reason for referral to an orthodontist.

The goal of treatment is to correct the positioning of the teeth. Correcting moderate or severe malocclusion can:

  • Make teeth easier to clean and decrease risk of tooth decay and periodontal diseases (gingivitis or periodontitis).
  • Eliminate strain on the teeth, jaws, and muscles. This lessens the risk of breaking a tooth and may reduce symptoms of temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ).

Treatments may include:

  • Braces or other appliances: Metal bands are placed around some teeth, or metal, ceramic, or plastic bonds are attached to the surface of the teeth. Wires or springs apply force to the teeth. Clear braces (aligners) without wires may be used in some people.
  • Removal of one or more teeth: This may be needed if overcrowding is part of the problem.
  • Repair of rough or irregular teeth: Teeth may be adjusted down, reshaped, and bonded or capped. Misshapen restorations and dental appliances should be repaired.
  • Surgery: Surgical reshaping to lengthen or shorten the jaw is needed in rare cases. Wires, plates, or screws may be used to stabilize the jaw bone.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage Malocclusion of the Teeth?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with Malocclusion of the Teeth:

It is important to brush and floss your teeth every day and have regular visits to a general dentist. Plaque builds up on braces and may permanently mark teeth or cause tooth decay if it is not properly removed.

You will need a retainer to stabilize your teeth after having braces.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Review Date: November 9, 2018 | Last Modified: September 13, 2019