Dental Malocclusion: Everything You Need to Know

What the layperson might refer to as “crooked” or “misaligned” teeth, dentists refer to as dental malocclusion. A prominent condition, it can affect both the aesthetics and functionality of teeth. As such, it can result in both social and health issues.

Looking to learn a little more about dental malocclusion? You’re in the right place. Not only are we going to discuss its causes, but available treatment methods as well. 

What Causes Dental Malocclusion?

There are a number of factors which can lead to dental malocclusion. The most prominent of these factors include the following. 

Tooth and Jaw Incompatibility 

Because they suffer from tooth and jaw incompatibility, some individuals become predisposed to dental malocclusion. These individuals either have problems with jaw misalignment or with their jaws being too small to accommodate all of the teeth in their mouth. As a result, their teeth become crowded and must position themselves in awkward directions in order to fit. 

Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do to prevent this from happening. The only option is to seek treatment after your teeth have grown in fully. 


Kids with a bad habit of sucking their thumbs often end up with crooked teeth, as their thumbs can interfere with the natural development of their teeth and jaws. Note, however, that not every kid who sucks his or her thumb is in danger of forming crooked teeth. Thumb sucking is a natural reflex for babies and toddlers, after all. 

The kids who are truly vulnerable are those who suck their thumbs while their adult teeth are coming in. So, if your child is sucking his or her thumb up to the age of 5 or 6, you need to try to quell the habit as quickly as possible. 

Tongue Jostling 

Another habit which can interfere with the development of the teeth and jaws is tongue jostling. This is the habit of pushing one’s tongue up against the side of the teeth in a repetitive manner. 

Tongue jostling is common among many, and especially young kids. It’s usually done as a reaction to a change within the mouth. For instance, if a new tooth grows in, a child might begin to point his or her tongue in the direction of that tooth. 

This is not an easy habit to spot or break. With that said, if you notice your child doing it, you should, at the very least, tell him or her to stop. Breaking this habit early could prevent a lot of trouble down the line. 

Overextended Pacifier Usage 

Another cause of crooked teeth is overextended pacifier usage. Children who still use pacifiers as their adult teeth are growing in are impairing the natural development of their teeth and jawbones. In this scenario, crooked teeth are a very real possibility. 

Missing Teeth 

Whether you’re a child or adult, a missing tooth leaves you vulnerable to dental malocclusion. This is due to the fact that teeth naturally shift toward open spots on the gums. 

Want to prevent this from happening? Have a dental implant inserted as soon as possible. 

Excess Teeth 

Some individuals suffer from a condition known as Hyperdontia, a condition in which excessive amounts of teeth grow in. As you might expect, this condition often results in crooked or misaligned teeth, as there are too many teeth present for them all to grow in straight. 


In some cases, injuries will lead to malocclusion. This occurs when the jawbone or ligaments meet physical trauma.

Treatment for Dental Malocclusion

Treatment for dental malocclusion is fairly straightforward. Generally, those suffering from the condition can benefit from one of the following.  


The most common way to treat dental malocclusion is with the use of orthodontic braces. Braces get used to slowly alter the alignment and positioning of the teeth, doing so by re-positioning the jawbone and corresponding ligaments. 

Those who opt to use braces must see an orthodontist on a regular basis. The orthodontist assesses the patient’s teeth over time, adjusting the braces so that they make small, incremental changes over the span of weeks, months, or — in most cases — years. Most patients wear their braces for between 18 months and 2 years.

There are, in general, two different types of braces that patients can utilize: traditional braces and Invisalign braces. Traditional braces consist of metal and can’t get removed for the duration of their use. Invisalign braces consist of clear plastic and can get removed during meals and tooth-brushing sessions. 

Interested in getting braces for your teeth? All you have to do is schedule an appointment with your local orthodontist. He or she will devise a straightening plan for you and guide you on the path to straight teeth. 

Tooth Extraction 

In cases where the mouth becomes overcrowded with teeth, tooth extraction is sometimes necessary. Tooth extraction is a procedure in which one or more of the teeth gets removed from the mouth, allowing more room for the other teeth to shift and reposition themselves. 

Often times, tooth extraction will act as a precursor to braces. One or more teeth will get removed, and then braces will get used to help move the remaining teeth into the spots that remain. 


If you suffer from severe dental malocclusion, you might need to undergo surgery. Surgery is particularly helpful when the patient is dealing with jaw misalignment, as it can work to move and/or enlarge the jaw. 

Surgery for malocclusion is rare, but still a possibility. Your dentist or orthodontist will only recommend it if it’s absolutely necessary. 

Brush Up on Your Oral Health 

Now that you know a little something about dental malocclusion, you might be interested in learning about some other dental conditions. If so, you’re in the right place. Hartcourt Health has you covered. 

Our site covers all aspects of oral health, providing information on dental maintenance, dental conditions, dental products, and more. 

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