Orthodontics Services in Valparaiso, Indiana
What is a Malocclusion?
This is a term dentists use to describe irregularities of tooth position and occlusion (the fitting together of the teeth when jaws are closed). It means a dental deformity which may lead to other disfiguration of the jaws and face.
What Causes This?
There are two general causes. One is inherited. Each person’s jaw structure and the size of his or her teeth are handed down from parents. The second cause is acquired, or sometimes called “environmental.” This would include the premature loss of primary teeth through decay or accident. It would also include an acquired habit such as prolonged thumb sucking. Often there is no single cause of malocclusion but rather a combination of factors both hereditary as well as acquired.
Won’t Teeth Straighten By Themselves?
Irregular teeth rarely straighten themselves. Regular dental care started early is the best preventive measure. When caught soon enough, conservative procedures can be used which may eliminate the need for more complicated treatment at a later date. For example, it is important to retain primary teeth until permanent teeth are ready to erupt. If a primary tooth is lost too early a space maintainer may be needed to prevent the adjacent teeth from moving into the empty space and thereby presenting more serious problems.
How Common Is Malocclusion?
Approximately 50% of the children of any given age group need some form of orthodontic supervision. Orthodontics is the detection, study, prevention and correction of malocclusion.
Can Something So Common Be Serious?
Generally speaking, yes. If the malocclusion is not severe, the resulting problem is not likely to be severe. But if the malocclusion is moderately pronounced, then the answer becomes a more definite yes. Moderate malocclusion at an early age tends to become more strongly marked as the child becomes more mature.
Look at it this way. If your child did not walk normally, you would get him corrective shoes. You would recognize that there were physical disabilities as well as potential emotional problems. The same is true here. In the case of malocclusion, there are also health problems to consider. The failure to chew properly can result in three things. First of all, improper chewing places an extra burden on the stomach that may well show up in later life in a serious condition. Secondly, improper chewing may often prevent a person from selecting foods necessary for adequate nutrition. The third problem is that teeth improperly positioned generally are harder to clean, and food particles lodge more readily between them. This results in more decay and gum diseases.
Can All Malocclusions Be Corrected?
No, but in a great many cases, malocclusion can be entirely eliminated. In just about every case, the personal appearance and the function of the teeth can be improved. Living bone is not nearly as hard and unyielding as you might think. It can be molded by the continuous application of pressure, and its ability to yield is put to work to correct malocclusion.
What Should Be Done Now?
Your dentist can outline a course of action based on the conditions found. Examination, x-rays, and perhaps a plaster cast of the teeth will help determine the nature of the case and the treatment program that should be followed. An orthodontic program conscientiously followed will be well worth the time and expense in creating a better appearance and improved health.