Skip to main content

What Causes Malocclusion

What is Malocclusion?

Malocclusion is another term for misaligned teeth. It may be out of alignment on the upper teeth, the lower teether, or the bite may be misaligned. The molars in the back of the mouth should fit together when the mouth is closed. The alignment of the upper teeth prevents you from biting your cheeks and lips. The alignment of your lower teeth prevents you from biting your tongue. We’ve all experienced that unexpected bite of the part of our mouth—it can be extremely uncomfortable. These occurrences are more likely to happen with malocclusion. 

Causes of Malocclusion 

Usually, malocclusion is hereditary. Misaligned teeth are passed down from generation to generation through families. The shape of the jaw may play a role. Teeth may be overcrowded if there is not enough space in the mouth. Congenital disabilities may also lead to malocclusion—these may include a cleft lip or palate. Injury can also lead to malocclusion. 

Habits formed in childhood can also lead to malocclusions. Sucking on a thumb, tongue thrusting, or extended use of pacifier or bottle (beyond age three.) Any extra teeth, lost teeth, impacted teeth, or ill-fit crowns, retainers, braces, or other dental issues may also lead to malocclusion. Poor dental care can also lead to misalignment—failing to brush and floss daily and get regular dental cleanings can impact your teeth in many ways. 


Malocclusion symptoms include:

  • Misaligned teeth 
  • Pain or discomfort when chewing
  • Mouth breathing
  • Speech impediments such as a lisp
  • Regularly biting cheeks, lips, or tongue
  • Change in appearance of the face
  • Fillings, crowns, braces, or retainers no longer fitting
  • Tumors in the mouth or jaw
  • Allergies
  • Enlarged adenoids or tonsils 

Three Classes

Not all malocclusion is the same. There are three categories of this alignment. 

  • Class 1—the most common form of malocclusion, class 1 is diagnosed by the upper teeth overlapping the lower teeth. The overlap is slight, and the rest of the bite is regular. 
  • Class 2—this is commonly referred to as an overbite. It is also known as retrognathism or retrognathia. Class 2 is diagnosed by the upper teeth, significantly overlapping the lower teeth. There is a noticeable gap in the upper and lower jaw. 
  • Class 3—also known as an underbite or prognathism, class 3 is diagnosed by the lower jaw protruding forward, meaning that the lower teeth overlap the upper teeth. 

Treatment for Malocclusion

Treatment for misaligned teeth will differ based on the causes of the malocclusion and the patient. It may require orthodontics or oral surgery. Malocclusion will not go away on its own and will often worsen over time. It is better to deal with early on. 

For all of your oral surgery inquires, contact Oral and Facial Surgery of Utah. 


Comments are closed.

Click to open and close visual accessibility options. The options include increasing font-size and color contrast.