Types of orthodontic problems
An orthodontist will correct issues like crooked or crowded teeth to create a beautiful smile and healthy jaw alignment.
An orthodontic problem is called a “malocclusion”, meaning "bad bite". Issues may include crowded teeth, extra teeth, missing teeth, or jaws that are out of alignment. Most issues are inherited although some may result from an accident, early or late loss of baby teeth, or prolonged sucking of the thumb or fingers.
If you, or your child have any of the following issues, contact an orthodontist for an expert opinion:
- Crowded teeth and spacing issues - Teeth may be too big, too small, too far apart or too close together which can result in poor alignment and make chewing difficult, affect speech, appear unattractive and be more difficult to clean.
- 'Buck teeth' - 'Buck teeth' or 'rabbit teeth' occurs when the upper jaw grows too much and sticks out, or the lower jaw does not grow enough. Protruded teeth can be cute but some are unattractive and others may be prone to accidental damage.
- Underbite - This is much less common but occurs when the lower jaw outgrows the upper jaw. When biting together, upper front teeth sit in behind lower teeth.
- Overbite/deepbite - This is where the upper jaw bites down too far over the lower jaw and may bite into the lower gum. Lower teeth can bite up into the gum behind the upper teeth. This type of bite is also a risk factor for increased tooth wear and gum damage.
- Openbite - This is where back teeth bite together but front teeth don't, so there is a gap between top and bottom teeth. It creates difficulty with eating, biting, chewing and speech and is often caused by abnormal jaw growth which could result in abnormal tongue habits.
- Crossbite - Upper teeth should fit outside lower teeth like a lid on a box. If the upper jaw is too narrow, the lower jaw usually swings to one side to allow the back teeth to mesh.
- Missing teeth - This can result in unattractive spaces. Opposing and adjacent teeth can drift into the space to create further problems.
- Impacted teeth - Teeth may become impacted if they don't have sufficient space to erupt, or erupt in an unusual direction.
- Ectopic teeth - Ectopic teeth are teeth which develop in the wrong position.
- Thumb/finger sucking - This can mean teeth are pushed into a crooked position and sometimes the supporting bone is affected. Once sucking ceases, some degree of natural improvement often occurs.
A specialist orthodontist's opinion should be sought if there is difficulty chewing or biting, speech issues, teeth clenching or grinding or jaws that shift or make sounds.