Why Malocclusions Need to be Addressed
It is rare for anyone to have perfect teeth, but many patients can still maintain a healthy smile even if one or two teeth are crooked. Even so, there are some instances when the positioning of the teeth and jaws are problematic, and it’s for this reason that an orthodontist should examine the teeth no later than the age of seven.
Malocclusions, such as crooked teeth and poor bite positions, are not necessarily painful, but they can create several oral health concerns that may cause discomfort later on. It is important to address these issues now so that any problems can be prevented in the future. If left untreated, malocclusions can cause significant damage and interfere with everyday life. Here’s why early detection and prevention are critical.
The Importance of Preventative Care
The sooner an orthodontist can spot problems with malocclusion; the more efficient treatment will likely be. When dental conditions are caught early on, any negative growth or harmful bacteria has had less time to spread and cause damage. Even if there are no issues present, an orthodontist will continue to monitor the development of the teeth to ensure they remain healthy. Although rare, it is not uncommon for teeth to shift position later in life, especially if one or more teeth go missing.
The age of seven is the ideal time to receive orthodontic treatment because it is at this stage that the molars begin to erupt. With the onset of new teeth comes changes to the bite position, which could result in a poor alignment or over crowing if they erupt without enough room. An orthodontist can examine the way the teeth on the front, back and sides of the mouth come together and determine whether additional treatment is needed.
Why Should You Correct Malocclusion?
Many people find their smiles unattractive if they have crooked teeth or a misaligned bite, but malocclusion creates larger problems than its cosmetic effects. When the teeth are crooked or crowded, they become harder to clean, which gives bacteria more time to penetrate the tooth enamel and cause cavities. Brushing is incapable of reaching individual spaces, and floss has a hard time cleaning in between teeth, making tooth decay and gum disease more likely.
If the teeth protrude away from the jaw (like in cases of buck teeth), they become more accident prone and have a higher chance of chipping, especially during physical activity. Treating chipped teeth is not necessarily time-consuming, but it can be inconvenient and expensive.
Even more problematic are the issues with jaw alignment that malocclusion can create. A crossbite (the result of one tooth taking on a position closer to the tongue or cheek than its corresponding tooth) allows for a continuation of poor growth. It also places uneven pressure on the jaw, creating wear on the teeth and problems with the TMJ joint. An openbite (the result of the upper and lower jaws being unable to come together) is result of a tongue-thrusting and can cause speech impediments.
If an orthodontist has not performed an evaluation of the teeth, there are still signs and symptoms to look out for on your own, especially since malocclusion comes in many different forms. Teeth that appear crooked or stick out from the mouth may require treatment. Additionally, if you are having trouble chewing or speaking, it may be the result of malocclusion. Taking issue with the overall appearance of your smile may warrant orthodontic treatment as well.
How Can Orthodontics Help?
Mild, moderate and severe cases of malocclusion are mostly fixed with traditional metal braces, which gradually move the teeth into a healthier position. Braces also help reposition the jaw so that the teeth come together comfortably for the patient. It is best to receive braces when you are younger, which is easier to manipulate the movement of the teeth. Braces are still very effective for adults as well to help getting their teeth aligned.
Whether you are younger or older, braces can:
- Create more space for crowded teeth
- Improve facial symmetry
- Maintain space for teeth that have not yet erupted
- Reduce the risk of oral health concerns and trauma
- Decrease the chances of tooth extraction
- Produce a healthier alignment that is easier to care for
Typically, orthodontic treatment takes about two years to complete on average, but the exact timing will depend on the extent of the malocclusion. Once braces have been removed, it is important for the teeth to maintain their new position. Naturally, they will try to revert to their unhealthy alignment, but to prevent this from happening, you can use a retainer to hold the teeth in place. Retainers should be worn indefinitely to maintain a healthy smile.
With the help of orthodontic treatment, your smile will not only look more appealing, but also it will be healthier too. Many patients gain self-confidence with straighter teeth and have peace of mind knowing that their oral hygiene practices will be useful now more than they were when their teeth were misaligned.
For more information about malocclusion, or to find out how the positioning of your teeth and jaw can be corrected with orthodontic treatment, contact Central Florida Smiles in either our Longwood (407-862-1870) or Lake Mary (407-805-0068) offices and schedule a consultation.