Most orthodontic problems either involve misalignments of the teeth or an incorrect relation between the jaws (the bite). The cause of these problems are most often inherited (genetics), but can also be from environmental factors (trauma, habits). The following are some common orthodontic problems.
Crowding of the teeth is usually defined as a tooth sized/jaw length discrepancy (Big teeth/small jaws). Crowding is treated with orthodontics, usually with braces or Invisalign. Crowding can be relieved by jaw expansion, slenderizing teeth and in severe cases, extraction of some teeth.
Spacing (the opposite of crowding), is an excess of space between your teeth which results in gaps between the teeth. This frequently occurs when the teeth are smaller than the available space. Spacing can also be caused by protrusive teeth, missing teeth, impacted teeth or abnormal tissue attachments to the gums.
An impacted tooth is a tooth that fails to erupt through the gums. This can be caused by crowding, misalignments, transposed positions, or ankylosis (fused to the jaw bone). It frequently happens to the wisdom teeth but can happen to other teeth as well. Left untreated impacted teeth may lead to other dental problems.
An open bite is a condition that occurs when certain teeth, usually your front teeth, do not make contact with each other. An open bite gives the illusion that a person's mouth is never really closed, because there is always space between the teeth. For patients that have a moderate to severe open bite, treatment is important since the condition can affect the jaw joints. A thumb sucking habits frequently caused the development of open bite. An open bite is best treated as young as possible when growth development can be modified. As the patient gets older, treatments become more difficult.
"Overbite" or Overjet
"Overbite" or Overjet is the horizontal distance between the upper and lower front teeth. Some of the complications of an overbite are just cosmetic. Having what some kids call “buck teeth” is hazardous to a child’s self esteem. In addition, because the teeth are sticking out, they are more prone to trauma and breakage. Some studies have also indicated that people with this type of bite are more prone to having temporomandibular joint disease. The cartilage, muscles and bones of the jaw joint are more stressed, which may lead to pain, headaches and grinding of the teeth.
An underbite is a condition where the lower teeth or jaws protrude past the upper teeth. Underbites are best treated at a very young age (as early as 7). At this age the cause of the underbite can be diagnosed by modifying jaw growth. At an older age the underbite may be camouflaged with orthodontics, but if it is severe orthognathic surgery is an option.
A crossbite is a condition where the teeth are crossed over the bite. It can occur on the front teeth or back teeth.
When the crossbite is in the back teeth (posterior crossbite), the cause is usually a narrow upper jaw. This can be treated at a young age with a Palatal Expander.