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Common Orthodontic Problems

When a person's teeth or jaws do not fit together properly, orthodontic treatment may be necessary to correct the problem. If left untreated, these orthodontic problems, often referred to as malocclusions, can cause speech difficulty, premature wear of the teeth and protective enamel, and even increase the chance of injury to the teeth and jaw joints.

Class II problems represent an abnormal bite relationship in which the upper jaw and teeth are located in front of the lower jaw and teeth. Class II patients usually exhibit a convex facial profile with a recessed chin. In most cases this relationship is due to inherent characteristics.

A skeletal Class II problem occurs when the upper back molars are forward of the lower back molars giving the patient the appearance of a recessed lower jaw or an upper jaw that is protrusive.

Class III problems are also primarily genetic in origin. In this instance the lower jaw and teeth are positioned in front of the upper jaw and teeth. Facially, the appearance may give the impression that the lower jaw is excessively large, but in many cases the lack of upper jaw development is at fault. There are several treatment options to correct a Class III problem.

Crowding of the teeth is probably the most common orthodontic problem. Although many factors contribute to dental crowding, this problem typically stems from a discrepancy between space in each jaw and the size of the teeth.

Oftentimes crowding can be just one of several orthodontic problems. Crowding can be the cause of, or the result of other problems such as impacted teeth, retained teeth or teeth that do not naturally fall out. Crossbite of the front or rear teeth can also cause the teeth to become crowded.

Also known as an overbite, a deep bite is excessive vertical overlapping of the front teeth and is generally found in association with a discrepancy between the length of the upper and lower jaws. It usually results in excessive eruption of the upper or lower incisors or both.

Also known as a gummy-smile, this orthodontic problem gives the appearance of excessive exposed gums on the upper arch. These are several treatment options for this problem. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to remove a section of the upper jaw shifting the jaw upward vertically reducing the amount of exposure of the upper-gum tissue.

An openbite can occur with the front teeth, known as an anterior openbite or with the back teeth, referred to as a posterior openbite. An anterior openbite is the lack of vertical overlap of the front teeth and can usually be traced to jaw disharmony or habits such as thumb sucking or the thrusting of the tongue against the front teeth. A posterior openbite is a problem in which the back teeth do not meet vertically prohibiting the jaw to function properly.

Phase I treatment is oftentimes necessary for younger patients to establish the proper “foundation” for future dental and facial development. By creating the necessary space and properly aligning the existing teeth, we can guide permanent teeth into their proper position. The second phase of treatment takes place after permanent teeth have erupted. In many cases, Phase I treatment can reduce the length of time required for the second phase.

A posterior crossbite will usually result from a narrow upper jaw or abnormally wide lower jaw. A narrow upper jaw will often force a patient to move their lower jaw forward or to the side when closing into a stable bite. When closed into this accommodating position, the lower teeth are located outside the upper teeth.

A posterior crossbite can involve one side of the jaw, known as a unilateral crossbite, or both sides of the jaw, known as a bilateral crossbite.

Spaces between teeth are another common problem associated with the need for orthodontic care. Like crowding, spacing may be related to a tooth-to-jaw size disharmony. Spacing may occur between the front and the back teeth. Tooth size discrepancies, such as smaller teeth or abnormally shaped teeth can also create abnormal spaces between the teeth.

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