Malocclusion, or misalignment, occurs when upper and lower teeth don’t meet comfortably. Two of the most noticeable types of jaw misalignment are an overbite, where the upper teeth stick out, and an underbite, where the lower teeth sit in front of the upper teeth. Malocclusion causes jaw pain, headaches, and you may also bite your cheeks or other areas inside your mouth. Correct jaw alignment allows for effective chewing and distribution of biting forces equally over all the teeth. Severe malocclusion can interfere with eating, breathing, sleeping and speech, and cause discomfort and pain even when your jaw isn’t moving. Left uncorrected, malocclusion can even lead to broken teeth and even tooth loss.
Common causes of malocclusion include:
- Mismatch between jaw size and size of teeth
- Thumb sucking or tongue thrusting habit
- Premature loss of or missing teeth
Checking for malocclusion is a part of your regular dental exam. Depending on the severity, recommended treatments may include orthodontics, cosmetic dentistry and surgery.