The decision to fit your child with braces is not as clean cut as it seems. The misalignment of teeth, referred to as a malocclusion, is something that may or may not rectify itself with time and growth. It can be a costly decision as the procedure and equipment can range upwards of $10,000. It is important to consult a dentist or orthodontist if you notice any of the listed malocclusions begin to develop in order to know if your child really needs braces.
In this type of malocclusion, the rear teeth and jaw are well-aligned according to modern orthodontic standards. Teeth towards the front of the mouth, however, will exhibit inconsistent spacing, crowding and/or irregular eruption. These can occur singularly or vary in severity across several teeth. These imperfections rarely pose a serious health concern, however, using braces for cosmetic reasons is common among all malocclusions.
A distocclusion is more commonly referred to as an overbite. There are two different classifications of a distocclusion in which the rear teeth are misaligned in varying ways, but the telltale sign of an overbite is a severe forward protrusion of the upper front teeth. This circumstance is typically a result of a slowly developing or underdeveloped mandible (lower jaw.) Discomfort and problems with chewing are common symptoms of this condition, and can be life long if not treated.
An overbite is caused by either a larger than normal mandible or an underdeveloped maxillary bone (upper jaw.) In this malocclusion it is possible for the lower incisors to come in contact with and damage the gingival tissue of the maxillary. Braces are often used to fix disto and mesiocclusions, but in more severe cases surgery may be necessary.
Crowding of Teeth
The crowding of teeth has many causes and is itself more a cause of maloccluions rather than a classification of them. Sometimes there isn't enough room for adult teeth to fully erupt, or they erupt while the baby teeth are still in. This problem needs to be addressed as soon as it's spotted. Trauma, dental malpractice and other stresses to the teeth can cause forms of crowding even in adulthood.
Some more warning signs that a misalignment is imminent include inconsistent loss of baby teeth, difficulty chewing, irregular breathing, finger sucking and sounds from jaw movement. Most malocclusions are not large enough to require treatment, and braces are also more commonly sought after for cosmetic purposes.
However, there are some very serious health concerns associated with severe forms of misalignment. Inaccessibility for cleaning, chronic pain, tissue laceration and problems with breathing and chewing are amongst the most common debilitating effects of severe malocclusion. Compare your child's developing teeth with the standards set forth by the American Association of Orthodontists. Their website has a wealth of information and resources on the subject and can be found at www.aaoinfo.org.
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