Malocclusion of the Teeth: What It Is & How to Fix It

Posted on: 17 March 2015

Malocclusion is a term used to describe a misalignment of your teeth. You may be told you have malocclusion if you have crowded teeth, crooked teeth or your upper and lower teeth don't line up the way they should.

Misaligned teeth can interfere with speech development, make certain teeth difficult to clean and cause you to bite your cheek or tongue. Additionally, when your upper and lower teeth don't fit together well when you chew or close your mouth, the joints that connect your lower jaw to your skull can become inflamed and painful as a result of being under too much stress.

Dental malocclusion can impact on your self-confidence and oral health, but can usually be treated. Here's what you need to know.


Dental malocclusion is often inherited and can result from simply having a mouth that's too small to accommodate your teeth, but there are other factors that can influence the alignment of your teeth. Thumb sucking, facial injuries, cleft lip and palate, early loss of baby teeth, and poorly completed fillings and crowns can all lead to malocclusion. Adult tooth loss can also lead to malocclusion if the empty space is not filled with dentures or a dental bridge as the remaining teeth start to drift into the space.


Common symptoms of malocclusion include:

  • Pain when chewing or biting
  • Crooked teeth
  • Protruding upper front teeth
  • Lower teeth stick out beyond the upper teeth
  • A lisp or difficulty pronouncing certain words


Dental malocclusion is diagnosed by thorough examination of your jaw and teeth and dental X-rays. If an X-ray shows your teeth are misaligned, your dentist will refer you to an orthodontist for treatment. The orthodontist may make a plaster cast of your teeth to get a clearer understanding of how your teeth are fitting together, and this will help them formulate a treatment plan for you.


Treatment will depend on the severity of the malocclusion and the impact on your oral health. Here are three treatment options:

  • Removal—If overcrowding is to blame for the misalignment of your teeth, the orthodontist may suggest removing some of your teeth to allow the remaining teeth some space to spread out.
  • Braces—Your teeth can be gradually moved to the correct position with the help of braces. In addition to straightening crooked teeth, braces can also be used to close gaps between teeth and correct your bite, meaning your top teeth and bottom teeth will come together in the correct position when you close your mouth.
  • Surgery—If your upper or lower jaw juts out you may be offered surgery to shorten and reshape your jaw. This is a complex procedure and is generally only recommended if more conservative treatment has failed or your quality of life is severely impacted by dental malocclusion. Before pursuing jaw surgery you should discuss the risks and possible complications with an experienced oral and maxillofacial surgeon.

Malocclusion of the teeth should be addressed as soon as symptoms become apparent as misalignment will often worsen with time. If you're concerned about the alignment of your teeth or have any discomfort when chewing, schedule an appointment with a clinic like Denticheck.