Can I Prevent Malocclusion

Few people are born with picture-perfect teeth. Many get dental work or use orthodontic devices to pull teeth into place and ensure they’re bright and shiny. One of the most common dental conditions orthodontic devices treat is malocclusion, or the misalignment of teeth.  Let’s dive deeper into what malocclusion is, what causes it, and a few tips on treating it.

What is malocclusion?

Malocclusion, also known as misalignment, occurs when the teeth are not aligned properly. This can lead to a variety of issues, from chipped and cracked teeth to gum disease caused by faster plaque buildup and a harder time cleaning teeth. People with malocclusion can also have issues such as overbite, underbite, open bite, and crossbite.

Many cases of malocclusion are hereditary and can’t be prevented. A variety of genetic factors dealing with the face can cause it, such as differences in upper and lower jaw sizes. Still, malocclusion can also be influenced by nurture to some extent. So, it’s possible to reduce the chances or severity of it.

Tips to reduce the chances of malocclusion

As mentioned, malocclusion can be partially caused by nurture instead of nature. Here are some ways to reduce the chances of it occurring:

Prevent your child from sucking their thumb

One of the biggest non-genetic contributing factors is thumb-sucking. According to this expert dentist in Leominster, Consistent thumb-sucking can cause impede upper jaw growth, leading to a narrower upper jaw than normal. This can cause malocclusion, as teeth will have less room.

Ways to treat malocclusion

No one has to be stuck with malocclusion. Here are two popular treatment methods for fixing the issue and aligning teeth correctly:

1. Braces

Braces are one of the most common ways to treat malocclusion. They involve mounting brackets on the teeth, then connecting the brackets to each other and placing constant pressure on your jaw. The orthodontist may also place little elastic bands on each tooth to add more pressure to the jaw. As a result, the jaw slowly moves into the correct place over time.

Braces have been used for hundreds of years to treat malocclusion. Treatment tends to last at least one to two years and requires monthly appointments to adjust the device. The braces remain in the mouth the whole time. Patients may have to avoid hard or sticky foods and be careful about contact sports. Additionally, cleaning the teeth and gums around the braces may be more challenging. 

2. Clear aligners

Clear aligners were developed as a convenient and comfortable alternative to braces. They’re removable, making for easier eating and easier teeth and device cleaning. They’re invisible as well, so the patient can continue smiling without anyone knowing they’re wearing a corrective orthodontic device. Lastly, aligner treatment can be shorter than braces at just six to 12 months, with dental visits more spaced out.

That said, aligners must be worn at least 22 hours per day to be effective. Every couple of weeks, the patient must swap out the current aligner for the next in their aligner set.

The bottom line

Many people will experience at least minor malocclusion, since many cases are genetic. But luckily, it’s not incurable. Patients can get braces or aligners to fix the problem. Braces are a traditional option, but clear aligners have gained popularity due to their comfort and convenience. If you or your child has malocclusion, consider these devices to fix the issue and achieve a straight smile.