Malocclusion of the Teeth: Symptoms, Cause, and Treatment

Malocclusion is the condition when the teeth are not aligned as they should be. The upper teeth should land slightly ahead of the lower teeth when a person bites their teeth together. Each molar should fit correctly to its opposite molar. Despite the fact that many people prefer the upper and lower teeth to align for aesthetic purposes, this is not the optimal tooth position because it can lead to some dental issues such as tooth displacement.


The symptoms of malocclusion may vary from case to case depending on the severity of the condition. The most common symptoms include:

  • tooth misalignment
  • abnormal signs of wear on the chewing surfaces of the teeth
  • problems with chewing or biting food
  • pain in the mouth or jaw
  • frequently biting the inside part of cheek when chewing

Moreover, a person with malocclusion may have a malformation of facial features and may even lisp or have other problems with speech.


Malocclusion can have a lot of causes. In most cases, malocclusion is inherited from parents or grandparents. It can be the result of a significant size difference between the jaws. Thumb sucking (after the age of five) can also affect the dentition and jaw position. The shape of the jaw or a birth defect in the mouth, such as a cleft lip or cleft palate can also cause malocclusion. If a child has an abnormally little space between baby teeth, he or she is more prone to malocclusion because there is not enough space in the jaw for permanent teeth.

The main causes of malocclusion are:

  • an abnormal bite pattern
  • overcrowding of teeth
  • untimely lost teeth in the childhood 
  • the presence of extra teeth
  • thumb sucking
  • pacifier use or prolonged use of a bottle for babies 
  • abnormally shaped teeth
  • extra teeth
  • impacted teeth 
  • ill-fitting dental appliances, retainers or braces
  • tumors of the mouth or jaw
  • misaligned jaw
  • jaw fractures

Malocclusion treatment options for 

The treatment options prescribed for malocclusion is determined individually by the dentist or kids orthodontist. The doctor usually considers several factors such as the age of the patient, the general state of health, medical history, and severity of the malocclusion. In addition, the patient’s tolerance to withstand various treatment methods (including treatment procedures and different therapies) is also taken into account.

There are a few different treatment options for malocclusion but each of them can be used in a particular case. The most common treatments include:

  • tooth extraction to facilitate overcrowding
  • fixed appliances (braces) to change the incorrect position of the teeth
  • surgery to cut the jaw or change its shape (performed by the maxillofacial surgeon)
  • capping, dental bonding or changing the shape of the teeth
  • removable appliances to support the new position of the teeth (for example, after braces) or in some cases to guide the growth of the jaws to improve the alignment of the bite
  • plates or wires to fix the jaw

According to the National Institutes of Health, perfectly aligned teeth are not very common but in most cases, malocclusion is so insignificant that treatment is not required. Many orthodontists recommend the initial visit to an orthodontist by the age of seven if you suspect a malocclusion in your child. It is much easier to correct the bite at this age and waiting too long can lead to fewer treatment options as the child grows older.

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Article Author Details

Amelia Grant

I am Amelia Grant, journalist, and blogger. I think that information is a great force that is able to change people’s lives for the better. That is why I feel a strong intention to share useful and important things about health self-care, wellness and other advice that may be helpful for people.