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Malocclusion and Orthodontics - Topic Overview

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What is malocclusion?

Malocclusion means having crooked teeth or a "poor bite camera.gif." Bite refers to the way the upper and lower teeth line up. In a normal bite, the upper teeth sit slightly forward of the lower teeth. Very few people have a perfect bite.

Most of the time, malocclusion is a cosmetic problem, which means that people don't like the way their teeth look. But it can also have a serious impact on self-esteem. Plus, crooked teeth can be hard to take care of, which may lead to tooth decay or tooth loss. When malocclusion is severe, it can even cause problems with eating or speaking.

Orthodontic treatment can correct the way teeth and jaws line up, and that may help a person feel better about his or her appearance. Dentists who are specially trained to correct malocclusion are called orthodontists. They use a variety of tools and techniques to move teeth, and sometimes the jaw, into the right position.

What causes malocclusion?

Malocclusion is usually caused by problems with the shape or size of the jaw or teeth. A common cause is having too much or too little room in the jaw. If a child's jaw is small, the teeth may grow in crowded or crooked. If there's too much space in the jaw, the teeth may drift out of place.

Other causes of malocclusion include thumb-sucking, pacifier use, and tooth loss. Long-term mouth breathing seems to be linked to malocclusion too, but how isn't exactly clear.

What are the symptoms?

The most obvious sign is teeth that are crooked or stick out. But there are many different types of malocclusion camera.gif. For example, some people have buck teeth (called an overjet). This means that the upper front teeth are pushed outward. Some people have an underbite. Their lower front teeth sit farther forward than their upper front teeth.

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    Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

    You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

    You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

    Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

    SOURCES:

    American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

    This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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