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What Are the Types of Malocclusion in Children

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Ensuring children’s oral health and overall well-being requires vigilance. Keeping an eye out for misaligned teeth and unusual jaw features (known as malocclusion) can aid early intervention to prevent more severe issues from developing. Malocclusion can affect a child’s ability to chew, speak, and maintain proper dental hygiene. But what are the types of malocclusion in children?

What Is Malocclusion?

Malocclusion is a deviation from the normal alignment of the upper and lower teeth. It’s not merely a cosmetic concern—it can significantly impact a child’s quality of life. Recognizing malocclusion early on paves the way for timely intervention, potentially simplifying treatment and improving outcomes.

Why Is Malocclusion a Problem?

If left unaddressed, malocclusion can lead to difficulties with eating and speaking, increased risk of cavities and periodontal diseases due to challenges in cleaning misaligned teeth, and self-esteem issues related to appearance. These risks underscore the importance of early detection and treatment.

Types of Malocclusion in Children

  • Overbite: When the upper front teeth stick out far beyond the lower front teeth, it’s called an overbite. This is one of the most noticeable forms of malocclusion.
  • Underbite: Sometimes referred to as a “bulldog bite,” an underbite is when the lower front teeth close and stick up in front of the upper teeth, often causing the chin to jut forward.
  • Crossbite: With a crossbite, teeth don’t line up properly when the mouth is closed or when chewing. With this form of malocclusion, some upper teeth close inside the lower teeth. A crossbite can occur at the front or sides of the mouth.
  • Open bite: The biting surfaces of the front or side teeth are supposed to close when the back teeth do, but with an open bite, front teeth and sometimes side teeth don’t close when the back teeth do, leaving an opening at the front of the mouth.

What Causes Malocclusion?

Genetics play a pivotal role in malocclusion, though habits like thumb sucking and prolonged use of a bottle or pacifier can also contribute to this condition. Injuries or conditions that affect jaw growth may be factors as well.

What Can Parents Do About Malocclusion?

Addressing habits early is key. For instance, using a device to stop thumb sucking can prevent or mitigate dental issues resulting from this habit. Additionally, scheduling early pediatric dentistry visits allows for the monitoring of the child’s dental development and early identification of malocclusion.

Orthodontic intervention might be recommended to correct alignment issues, and in rare cases, surgery could be necessary to address more severe malocclusions, including malformations of the jaw. The goal is always to ensure the child achieves a functional bite and a harmonious smile.

Understanding the types of malocclusion in children lays the groundwork for proactive parental involvement in a child’s dental health. Seeking professional dental consultation as soon as their children’s teeth begin to emerge helps parents proactively address any developing malocclusion issues. The earlier these interventions occur, the better the chances for a healthy and beautiful smile in your child’s future.