What is a Malocclusion?

A malocclusion is an incorrect relationship of the maxilla and the mandible, or a general misalignment of the teeth.

A malocclusion is an incorrect relationship between the maxilla (upper arch) and the mandible (lower arch), or a general misalignment of the teeth.

Malocclusions are so common that most individuals experience one, to some degree.

The poor alignment of the teeth is thought to be a result of genetic factors combined with poor oral habits, or other factors in the early years.

Moderate malocclusion commonly requires treatment by an orthodontist.  Orthodontists are dentists who specialise in the treatment of malocclusions and other facial irregularities.

kid with overcrowded malocclusion teeth

Classifications of Malocclusion


Class I Occlusion

This malocclusion means that the lower anterior incisors sit directly behind the upper anterior incisors when the patient bites down. This is considered less destructive than Class II and Class III malocclusions.


Class II Malocclusion

This is identified when the lower anterior incisors lie significantly behind the upper anterior incisors during the biting process; in some cases hitting the soft tissue behind the upper incisors.

This is commonly referred to as an overbite and can cause discomfort, bone damage, excessive wear of the front teeth, and tooth loss.


Class III Malocclusion

This is commonly known as an underbite and occurs when the lower anterior incisors and lower jaw are positioned beyond the upper teeth, making the lower jaw much more prominent than the upper jaw.

Reasons for treating a malocclusion

A severe malocclusion may lead to skeletal disharmony of the lower face. In a more extreme case, the orthodontist may work in combination with a maxillofacial dentist to reconstruct the jaw. 

It is never too late to seek treatment for malocclusion. Children and adults alike have completed orthodontic realignment procedures and have been delighted with the resulting even, straight smile.

Here are some of the main reasons to seek orthodontic treatment for a malocclusion:


Reduced risk of tooth decay

A malocclusion often causes an uneven wear pattern on the teeth.  

The constant wearing of the same teeth can lead to tooth erosion and decay.


Better oral hygiene

A malocclusion can be caused by overcrowding.  When too many teeth are competing for too little space, it can be difficult to clean the teeth and gums effectively.  

It is much easier to clean straight teeth that are properly aligned.


Reduced risk of TMJ

Temporomandibular jaw syndrome (TMJ) can be potentially caused by a malocclusion.  Headaches, facial pains and grinding teeth during sleep all result from the excessive pressure to the temporomandibular joint. 

Realigning the teeth reduces pressure, and can possibly eliminate these symptoms.