What You Need to Know About Malocclusion and Dental Crowding
2015 l 2:00 pm

What is Malocclusion?

The problem of malocclusion of the teeth occurs when there is a misalignment issue that can lead to severe oral and other related health problems. Our teeth fit in perfect harmony in our mouth to carry out its routine functions that they were intended for. However, in malocclusion teeth are not in tune during mastication or chewing action that can be quite problematic. There are several terms used for malocclusion such as:

  • crowded teeth,
  • cross bite,
  • overbite,
  • under bite,
  • Moreover, open bite.

What is dental crowding?  

The knowledge of paleoanthropology, is important in studying the timing of facial growth and its relationship to dental maturation for the perseverance of advancing knowledge about human evolution, in the dental field (orthodontic care), and also for legal reasons (estimation of age in forensic anthropology). Moreover, there is another condition that is known as dental crowding that is affiliated with both facial development, and dental maturation. The term dental crowding is defined as an inconsistency between tooth and jaw sizes that can lead to mal-position and rotation of teeth. However, to say dental crowding is a disease is not true but, it is certainly a condition that can lead to or stimulate other diseases. Some example of such diseases that can occur due to dental crowding are as follows:

  • Periodontal disease,
  • dental caries,
  • alternatively, temporomandibular joint dysfunction.

The prevalence of dental crowding currently is projected to be between 30% and 60%. Previous research studies have suggested that one of the most common reasons people consult an orthodontist, these days is due to dental crowding. Moreover, in the cosmetic enhancement field it is an in-demand cosmetic fix requested by patients.

Diagnosis of Dental Crowding

Furthermore, the major cause of dental crowding today is nonmasticatory action in lay terms meaning not chewing enough or properly as one is intended to do so. When people have trouble chewing or present with the following symptoms, then malalignment can be suspected. These symptoms are as follows:

  • Misalignment of the teeth,
  • face alteration,
  • recurrent pinching of the inner cheeks or tongue,
  • chewing or biting discomfort,
  • speech related issues such as a lisp,
  • and, breathing problems.

Diagnosis of Malocclusion

Moreover, malocclusion is diagnosed by the dentist after careful reviewing of the history, dental examination and finally routine dental X-rays. The majority of the people with this condition rarely require any treatment. However, one should consult their dentist and they might refer the patient to an orthodontist if the condition is severe. Some options that the orthodontist can suggest to fix this issue are as follows:

  • braces for the right positioning of  the teeth,
  • tooth extraction to fix overcrowding,
  • reshaping, bonding, or capping of teeth,
  • repair of irregular or rough teeth,
  • surgery to contract the jaw,
  • Moreover, the use of screws, wires or plates to give stability to the jaw bone. 

Furthermore, just like any other disease and its treatment, side effects and complications can occur. These include:

  • tooth decay,
  • pain or discomfort,
  • mouth sores or irritation due to the constant uses of braces,
  • and, struggle with chewing or speaking throughout treatment.

The issues with misalignment are easy,cost effective,less time consuming and can lead to permanent solutions when caught and treated earlier on.The dentist or the health care provider can give advise to address this issue while the children are young or in their teens as their bones are soft and  the teeth can be adjusted or manipulated without minimum resistance. Moreover, the treatment duration can be anywhere from 6 months to about 2 years depending on the complexity of the situation. Additionally, in adults orthodontic treatments are also successful, however they might need additional treatments, different types of braces, longer duration of treatments and not to forget it can be very expensive.

Furthermore, there are 3 different types of malocclusion present and a few of them are not preventable. Some of the issues related to this condition needs to be controlled with the change of personal habits such as thumb sucking or excessive use of pacifiers. 

Coming back to the history of malocclusion and dental crowding, it can be backdated to 12,000 years originating with the initial farmers. Moreover, after careful reviewing of the literature, researchers came to the conclusion that there was a connection between chewing, diet, and related dental wear patterns. Presently, malocclusion and dental crowding influences one in five people. This condition has also been portrayed as the “malady of civilization”.

Several research studies have reviewed and assessed the degree of contribution of the tooth and jaw sizes to the occurrence of this condition. Their findings suggested that individuals with dental crowding had smaller jaws or dental arches as compared to the non-crowded sample size. Moreover, another research study by McKeown suggested a stronger association between arch size and dental crowding as compared to the tooth size and dental crowding. However, there are controversies and inconsistencies in these findings.