Orthodontics is the practice of straightening misaligned teeth, also often referred to as malocclusion. Lets first define what occlusion is; dental occlusion is essentially how your top and bottom teeth come together. This is defined as your bite. An ideal occlusion is when your top teeth slightly overlap your bottom teeth on the outside surfaces, and when all of your back teeth contact each other at the same time evenly. There are three classes of malocclusion and in those three classes they each have different types. We will briefly go over all of them.
Class 1 Malocclusion is the easiest malocclusion to fix because it does not affect your bite as much as the other two classes. The first type in class 1 is when the teeth lean towards the tongue. The second type the bottom teeth lean towards the tongue but the top teeth stick out. In the third type the top teeth are crowded and lean towards the tongue.
Class 2 Malocclusion the top teeth protrude over the bottom teeth and it affects your bite significantly. This type of malocclusion typically benefits from early intervention. This class is divided into two groups. The first group the top teeth lean towards the lip and the second group the top central teeth lean towards the tongue.
Class 3 Malocclusion is also known as an underbite, where the lower teeth overlap the upper teeth. This type of malocclusion is categorized in three types. Type one the teeth do not form a normal shaped arch. In type two the lower teeth lean towards the tongue. Lastly in type three the upper arch is not normal and the upper teeth angle towards the tongue.
Other types of malocclusion that can fall into any of these three classes include crowding of the teeth, excessive spacing, an openbite (when back teeth are touching and front teeth do not overlap), overjet (top teeth extend significantly over bottom teeth), overbite (when top teeth significantly overlap the bottom teeth), crossbite (when top teeth bite inside of lower teeth), diastema (large space between two teeth), impacted tooth (a tooth that cannot erupt), and missing tooth/teeth.
All of these are a great reason to pursue orthodontics to establish a healthy relationship of your jaws and get the most optimal lifelong results. Braces or clear aligners are used to fix the relationship of the jaws and teeth. Over time the braces or clear aligners slowly move the teeth into a healthy bite with straight teeth. Straight teeth are the easiest to care for and a healthy jaw relationship will give you the best functionality of your teeth for the rest of your life!