|Classification and external resources|
A malocclusion is a misalignment or incorrect relation between the teeth of the two dental arches when they approach each other as the jaws close. The term was coined by Edward Angle, the "father of modern orthodontics", as a derivative of occlusion, which refers to the manner in which opposing teeth meet (mal- + occlusion = "incorrect occlusion").
Malocclusion is a common finding, although it is not usually serious enough to require treatment. Those who have more severe malocclusions may require orthodontic and sometimes surgical treatment (orthognathic surgery) to correct the problem. Correction of malocclusion may reduce risk of tooth decay and help relieve excessive pressure on the temporomandibular joint. Orthodontic treatment is also used to align for aesthetic reasons.
Malocclusions may be coupled with skeletal disharmony of the face, where the relations between the upper and lower jaws are not appropriate. Such skeletal disharmonies often distort sufferer's face shape, severely affect aesthetics of the face and may be coupled with mastication or speech problems. Most skeletal malocclusions can only be treated by orthognathic surgery.
Depending on the sagittal relations of teeth and jaws, malocclusions can be divided mainly into three types according to Angle's classification method. However, there are also other conditions, e.g. crowding of teeth, not directly fitting into this classification.
Many authors have tried to classify or modify Angle's classification. This has resulted in many subtypes.
Angle's classification method
Edward Angle, who is considered the father of modern orthodontics, was the first to classify malocclusion. He based his classifications on the relative position of the maxillary first molar. According to Angle, the mesiobuccal cusp of the upper first molar should align with the buccal groove of the mandibular first molar. The teeth should all fit on a line of occlusion which, in the upper arch, is a smooth curve through the central fossae of the posterior teeth and cingulum of the canines and incisors, and in the lower arch, is a smooth curve through the buccal cusps of the posterior teeth and incisal edges of the anterior teeth. Any variations from this resulted in malocclusion types. It is also possible to have different classes of malocclusion on left and right sides.
- Class I: Neutrocclusion Here the molar relationship of the occlusion is normal or as described for the maxillary first molar, but the other teeth have problems like spacing, crowding, over or under eruption, etc.
- Class II: Distocclusion (retrognathism, overjet) In this situation, the mesiobuccal cusp of the upper first molar is not aligned with the mesiobuccal groove of the lower first molar. Instead it is anterior to it. Usually the mesiobuccal cusp rests in between the first mandibular molars and second premolars. There are two subtypes:
- Class II Division 1: The molar relationships are like that of Class II and the anterior teeth are protruded.
- Class II Division 2: The molar relationships are Class II but the central are retroclined and the lateral teeth are seen overlapping the centrals.
- Class III: Mesiocclusion (prognathism, negative overjet) In this case the upper molars are placed not in the mesiobuccal groove but posteriorly to it. The mesiobuccal cusp of the maxillary first molar lies posteriorly to the mesiobuccal groove of the mandibular first molar. Usually seen as when the lower front teeth are more prominent than the upper front teeth. In this case the patient very often has a large mandible or a short maxillary bone.
Crowding of teeth
Crowding of teeth is where there is insufficient room for the normal complement of adult teeth.
Extra teeth, lost teeth, impacted teeth, or abnormally shaped teeth have been cited as causes of malocclusion. A small underdeveloped jaw, caused by lack of masticatory stress during childhood, can cause tooth overcrowding. Ill-fitting dental fillings, crowns, appliances, retainers, or braces as well as misalignment of jaw fractures after a severe injury are other causes. Tumors of the mouth and jaw, thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, pacifier use beyond age 3, and prolonged use of a bottle have also been identified as causes.
In an experiment on two groups of rock hyraxes fed hardened or softened versions of the same foods, the animals fed softer food had significantly narrower and shorter faces and thinner and shorter mandibles than animals fed hard food. Experiments have shown similar results in other animals, including primates, supporting the theory that masticatory stress during childhood affects jaw development. Only one small study has investigated this effect in humans. Children chewed a hard resinous gum for two hours a day and showed increased facial growth.
A 2011 paper suggested that "the changes in human skulls are more likely driven by the decreasing bite forces required to chew the processed foods eaten once humans switched to growing different types of cereals, milking and herding animals about 10,000 years ago."
Crowding of the teeth is treated with orthodontics, often with tooth extraction, Invisalign, or dental braces, followed by growth modification in children or jaw surgery (orthognathic surgery) in adults. Surgery may be required on rare occasions. This may include surgical reshaping to lengthen or shorten the jaw (orthognathic surgery). Wires, plates, or screws may be used to secure the jaw bone, in a manner similar to the surgical stabilization of jaw fractures. Very few people have "perfect" alignment of their teeth. However, most problems are very minor and do not require treatment.
Other kinds of malocclusions can be due to horizontal or vertical discrepancies. Long faces may lead to open bite, while short faces can be coupled to a deep bite. However, there are many other more common causes for open bites (such as tongue thrusting and thumb sucking), and likewise for deep bites. Upper or lower jaw can be overgrown or undergrown, leading to Class II or Class III malocclusions that may need corrective jaw surgery or orthognathic surgery as a part of overall treatment.  Malocclusions can also be secondary to transverse skeletal discrepancy or to a skeletal asymmetry.
In the active skeletal growth, mouthbreathing, finger sucking, thumb sucking, pacifier sucking, onychophagia (nail biting), dermatophagia, pen biting, pencil biting, abnormal posture, deglutition disorders and other habits greatly influence the development of the face and dental arches.
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