Occlusion is the term used by dentists to describe the way that your teeth fit together when you bite. Conversely, malocclusion is the term used to identify an issue which means that the teeth do not present as standard – with malocclusion typically affecting everything from oral health to confidence, and the individual’s ability to both communicate and eat and drink normally.
There are varying degrees of occlusion and malocclusion, many of which can be adjusted and even fixed with orthodontic intervention and various aligning treatments. But before we consider the ways to fix malocclusion and reinstate a well-balanced smile, let’s first cover some of the different types of malocclusion and what they look like.
The Different Types Of Malocclusion
To determine which type of bite you have and how severe your malocclusion could be, you need only look in the mirror, bite down, and look at how your teeth come together.
A normal bite is one where the teeth align, with the gap between your two front teeth on the top lining up with the gap between your two bottom teeth. Your teeth will also sit tight against each other without any significant gaps. This is considered the standard.
The following are all examples of common types of malocclusion:
- Overbite: When the top teeth sit over the front of your bottom teeth.
- Underbite: When your bottom teeth are layered in front of your top teeth, meaning the two sets do not meet in the middle.
- Open bite: A permanent gap between the top and bottom row of middle teeth.
- Crossbite: When the gaps between your teeth do not align between the top and bottom rows, meaning that they appear off-centre.
Can Malocclusion Be Fixed?
There are a number of different ways to treat and reverse signs of malocclusion. Orthodontic methods are regarded as standard, using fixed braces or the more innovative clear aligner treatments to adjust the position of the teeth and ensure a better and more cohesive fit. Fixed braces are the traditional method that orthodontists opt for, while clear aligners have become a more versatile and flexible option particularly heralded by adult patients.
For many clients and patients, the reason behind wanting to treat malocclusion is primarily aesthetic and is linked to confidence and self-esteem. However, there are cases where some issues with occlusion can have a negative impact on your oral hygiene, can cause heightened sensitivity with some teeth placing undue pressure on others, or can even cause gum recession and a higher risk of dental injury and disease.
If you’re unsure about the placement of your teeth and want to discuss potential aligning treatments with a dental professional, it is recommended that you book a consultation with an orthodontist. They will be able to advise on the best ways of treating malocclusion. Meanwhile, issues relating to the structure and health of your teeth should be seen by a dentist, and oral hygiene issues can be discussed with a hygienist.