Mal - occlusion literally means "poor closing" or "bad bite." A bad bite can be caused by several factors:
A dental malocclusion occurs when the teeth are not lined up properly, even though the jaws may be properly aligned.
A skeletal malocclusion occurs when the upper and lower jaws don't line up correctly.
Your teeth are not as fixed in place as you might think! Just as a constant breeze can cause a tree to grow at an angle, repetitive forces on your teeth can cause them to become "out of alignment."
Grinding Teeth (Bruxism)
Severe cases of grinding teeth (bruxism) can also change the occlusion. Most people who grind their teeth do so in their sleep and therefore may be unaware of the problem.
Primary (baby) teeth that are prematurely lost due to decay or injury sometimes necessitate the use of a spacer to keep the surrounding teeth growing straight until the permanent tooth erupts to replace the missing tooth. If missing permanent teeth are not replaced with implants, a bridge, or a partial denture, the adjacent teeth can "tip" into the empty space and the opposing teeth can "super-erupt" meaning they grow longer than is natural.
Correcting a malocclusion
Of course, more than one of the above factors may be involved, so it is important to obtain a professional evaluation. Left untreated, a malocclusion not only affects the patient's appearance, it can also lead to TMJ problems and an increased risk of decay and gum disease.
Dr. Barnes evaluates each individual case to determine the best course of action to prevent or cure the malocclusion.
© Copyright 2001- Dental WebSmith, Inc. and Susan Orwick-Barnes, DDS, PC. All rights reserved. Disclaimer: The information provided within is intended to help you better understand dental conditions and procedures. It is not meant to serve as delivery of medical or dental care. If you have specific questions or concerns, contact your health care provider.