Orthodontic Conditions

orthodontic conditions


Orthodontic Conditions

Did you know? No two smiles are exactly the same – before or after orthodontic treatment!

Many patients have a combination of several conditions, each requiring careful movement to align the teeth and create a proper bite.

The various forms of misaligned teeth are called malocclusions, or “bad bites”. A bad bite occurs when the alignment of the teeth is wrong, resulting in improper positioning when the bite is closed.

While each malocclusion has specific causes and creates certain issues, they all cause problems for your teeth, bite, and overall health of your mouth and body. After all, your mouth is the gateway to the rest of your body: overall health begins with a proper bite and healthy teeth.

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orthodontic problems

A bad bite can cause

Many other problems, including:

  • Difficulty chewing, biting, eating, or swallowing
  • Breathing problems
  • Digestive issues from improperly chewing food, including pain/discomfort
  • Dental and/or jaw pain
  • Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD)
  • Speech problems, such as a lisp
  • Chipped or broken teeth
  • Irregular facial appearance
  • Excessive bacteria growth and plaque build-up
  • Snoring, teeth grinding, or other sleeping issues
  • Difficulty closing mouth
  • Embarrassment with smile and/or lack of confidence
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For these reasons, it’s very important to treat a malocclusion with high-quality orthodontic care from an experienced doctor.

Below, you’ll find more information on common forms of malocclusions. Remember, many patients have a combination of several of these conditions – your teeth may not look exactly like any of these examples, but an experienced orthodontist will be able to determine your exact diagnosis, and recommend a treatment method.

Orthodontic X Ray of Open Bite Patient

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Open Bite

An open bite occurs when the top and bottom rows of teeth don’t touch when the mouth is closed. Open bites can occur in the front of the mouth (anterior open bite) or the back (posterior open bite), although front-teeth open bite is more common. Genetics or prolonged thumb-sucking in childhood are common culprits of open bites.

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Orthodontic X Ray of Overbite Patient

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An overbite is a too-large overlap between the top teeth and the bottom teeth. The top teeth hang too far over the bottom teeth: in severe overbites, the bottom teeth may even make contact with the roof of the mouth, causing damage to the tissue and bone. While a small overbite is normal in a proper bite, too large overbites are considered malocclusions and should be treated with orthodontic care.

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impacted teeth

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Impacted Teeth

Impacted teeth are teeth that have failed to properly pass through the gum-line and grow into their correct position in the row of teeth. The absence of this tooth can disrupt the growth of other teeth, which may drift into the space, causing gaps, crowding, damage of adjacent teeth, cysts, or other issues. Impacted teeth may or may not need to be drawn out – or in some cases extracted – but they should be closely monitored by an orthodontist to assess whether treatment is recommended.

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Orthodontic X Ray of Crossbite Patient

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Crossbite, or underbite, is a malocclusion when the top and bottom rows of teeth overlap improperly. The bottom teeth are set past the top teeth when the jaw is closed. This can occur in the front or back teeth, and can create a combination of overbite and underbite, or underbite and open bite.

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Orthodontic X Ray of Overjet Patient

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Excessive Overjet

An overjet is a too-large horizontal gap between the top and bottom rows of teeth when the mouth is fully closed. The gap can cause the front teeth to jut out more noticeably, leading some to unkindly call this condition “buck teeth.” While a very small overjet is normal in a healthy bite, an excessive overjet should be treated with orthodontic care.

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Orthodontic X Ray of Crowding Patient

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When teeth grow in unnatural positions, they compete for space and end up crooked and misaligned: this is called crowding. Crowding is one of the most common reasons patients seek orthodonic treatment. There are many causes for crowding, and each case requires careful, customized orthodontic treatment to move each tooth into its proper position.

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Orthodontic X Ray of Patient with Gaps in their Teeth

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Gaps Between Teeth

Gaps between teeth are too-large spaces between teeth. Patients may have a single gap or multiple gaps. They are treated with orthodontic intervention or prosthetic work, or a combination of both treatments. A single gap between the front teeth is called a diastema: it may not require treatment if it doesn’t cause issues for the patient.

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Orthodontic X Ray of Extraction Patient


Orthodontic Extractions

Treatments for extreme malocclusion may require orthodontic extractions (removal) of one or several teeth to achieve the best results. Cases requiring extractions are rare; your orthodontist will consider other options before recommending a tooth be removed. Extractions are used in combination with orthodontic treatment and may be done before or during care. Your orthodontist does not perform the extractions; rather, they will refer you to a specialized oral surgeon or experienced dentist.

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