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What is a Malocclusion?

A malocclusion is an incorrect relationship between the maxilla (upper arch) and the mandible (lower arch), or a general misalignment of the teeth.  Malocclusions are so common that most individuals experience one, to some degree.  The poor alignment of the teeth is thought to be a result of genetic factors combined with poor oral habits, or other factors in the early years.

Moderate malocclusion commonly requires treatment by an orthodontist.  Orthodontists are dentists who specialize in the treatment of malocclusions and other facial irregularities.

The following are three main classifications of malocclusion:

  • Class I – The occlusion is typical, but there are spacing or overcrowding problems with the other teeth.

  • Class II – The malocclusion is an overbite (the upper teeth are positioned further forward than the lower teeth).  This can be caused by the protrusion of anterior teeth or the overlapping of the central teeth by the lateral teeth.

  • Class III – Prognathism (also known as “underbite”) is a malocclusion caused by the lower teeth being positioned further forward than the upper teeth.  An underbite usually occurs when the jawbone is large or the maxillary bone is short.

Reasons for treating a malocclusion

A severe malocclusion may lead to skeletal disharmony of the lower face.  In a more extreme case, the orthodontist may work in combination with a maxillofacial dentist to reconstruct the jaw.  It is never too late to seek treatment for a malocclusion.  Children and adults alike have completed orthodontic realignment procedures and have been delighted with the resulting even, straight smile.

Here are some of the main reasons to seek orthodontic treatment for a malocclusion:

  • Reduced risk of tooth decay – A malocclusion often causes an uneven wear pattern on the teeth.  The constant wearing of the same teeth can lead to tooth erosion and decay.

  • Better oral hygiene – A malocclusion can be caused by overcrowding.  When too many teeth are competing for too little space, it can be difficult to clean the teeth and gums effectively.  It is much easier to clean straight teeth that are properly aligned.

  • Reduced risk of TMJ – Temporomandibular jaw syndrome (TMJ) is thought to be caused by a malocclusion.  Headaches, facial pains and grinding teeth during sleep all result from the excessive pressure to the temporomandibular joint.  Realigning the teeth reduces pressure, and eliminates these symptoms.

If you have any questions about malocclusions, please contact our office.

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Testimonials

Dr. Herrera and her staff are the best. Appointments are always on time. She is thorough, professional and just a neat person. I visit her office about 4 times a year for cleanings and checkups. The reason I mention this is that she has had the same great hygenist, Terri, for the entire time I have been a patient. My prior dentist had different hygenist every time I visited. Good example of how well this office is run. Don't have any fears seeing this dentist. Gentle, understanding and never rushed!

Jim S.

Dr. Herrera has been my dentist since mine retired many years ago. Dr. Herrera and her staff are highly skilled, and professional. Their equipment is top notch and the environment is relaxing. The hygienist (Teri) is very thorough and is simply excellent. Awhile back, I came in with a broken tooth, I expected a 2 or 3 visit repair over a course of at least a week. Dr. Herrera figured out the best repair, took the measurements, matched the tooth color, milled a porcelain crown, fitted and bonded it perfectly. I had a porcelain crown in one visit! The crown has been trouble free for years, and it still looks perfect. I have a fantastic dentist and hygienist. It does not get any better.

Kevin M.

Love Dr Herrera and all of the staff! Always courteous, friendly and fun when I visit. They are all very gentle when working on your teeth, so if you have a phobia of the dentist, fear no more! Not only are they easy on your mouth, but they have television screens you can watch while receiving treatment and even massaging chairs! I will continue to refer friends, family and clients to them for great dental care.

Lauren H.

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