The medical name for a misaligned bite is malocclusion, and it’s a common dental problem. You may have also heard malocclusion called crowded teeth, crossbite, overbite, underbite, or open bite. Each of these issues can lead to complications if left untreated.
Dr. Stephen Hiroshige and his staff are dedicated to helping you enjoy the best oral health possible. We often see patients who have malocclusion but don’t realize it’s a problem or that Invisalign® is an effective way to treat a misaligned bite and prevent future problems.
Types of alignment problems
There are several different reasons for malocclusion, and most of them are quite common. For example, your teeth may be too large for your jawbone, and so they may be crowded together. When that happens, your upper teeth and lower teeth don’t meet properly.
In some cases, your jaws don’t align correctly from birth. In other instances, alignment is simply the result of having crooked teeth.
Classes of malocclusion
Malocclusion is categorized by type and severity. There are three classes.
This is the most common class of alignment issues. When you have Class 1 malocclusion, your upper molars overlap your lower molars, and your teeth are either crowded or spaced too far apart. Your bite is normal in Class 1 malocclusion, and it isn’t considered severe.
Class 2 malocclusion is a severe overbite. Your upper teeth and jaw overlap your lower teeth and jaw significantly. Your lower jaw may be smaller than normal, causing the overbite.
The opposite of Class 2 malocclusion, Class 3 is a severe underbite, in which your lower teeth overlap your upper teeth, and your lower jaw juts forward.
Problems that result from malocclusion
A host of dental health issues can result from malalignment. For example, you may be more prone to tooth decay if your malocclusion is caused by crooked teeth because it’s difficult to thoroughly clean your teeth. Malalignment can also lead to tiny fractures in your enamel, which can also cause tooth decay.
Malocclusion can also impact how you speak and chew. If you’ve had this problem your whole life, you may not realize it’s a problem, but correcting it could allow you to speak more clearly or to chew your food more thoroughly.
Some people suffer lower self-esteem because of malocclusion. You may unconsciously avoid social situations, or you may simply be unhappy with how you look.
In many cases, malocclusion can be corrected using Invisalign aligners. Invisalign can be a great alternative to traditional braces. You wear your aligners for 22 hours per day, removing them to eat and to clean your teeth. Most people get a new set of aligners every two weeks.
If you’d like to find out if Invisalign is an option for correcting your malocclusion, schedule an appointment for an evaluation with Dr. Hiroshige. You may be able to avoid future problems and enjoy the smile you’ve always dreamed of having!