One of the most common dental problems is malocclusion. This word describes the complex problem of misaligned teeth and usually requires the help of a dentist to correct them. If you’re trying to understand your case of malocclusion or decipher what malocclusion is, this guide will cover what you need to know.

What Is malocclusion?

Malocclusion is simply defined as the misalignment of the teeth, or a “bad bite.” When a person is diagnosed with malocclusion, it is because their teeth do not line up correctly when the mouth is closed. This can manifest in an overbite, underbite, mixed bite, or overbite. In general, when a person seeks orthodontic treatment, correcting a case of malocclusion will be part of that treatment plan.

Symptoms of malocclusion

For someone who is suffering from malocclusion, the problem may present itself in several ways. In some cases, you may not even know that the symptoms you’re experiencing are due to a case of malocclusion. Common symptoms include:

  • Inability to bite properly
  • Excess plaque
  • Jaw pain
  • Chipped/worn teeth

Malocclusion classes

There are several classes within the diagnosis of malocclusion. They’re based on the severity and range from Class One to Class Three.

  • Class One Malocclusion: The least severe of the three types of malocclusion and the most common, Class 1, occurs when the top teeth overlap the bottom teeth when the mouth is closed. A slight overlapping is normal and considered healthy, but Class 1 indicates a step past “normal.”
  • Class Two Malocclusion: Increasing in severity is Class 2. When diagnosed with this, it means a person’s top teeth, or upper jaw, overlap the bottom teeth more severely. This class of malocclusion can cause a few problems like improper speech, inability to chew, and more.
  • Class Three Malocclusion: The most severe case of malocclusion is the case of an underbite. Though rarer, it is present when the bottom teeth and jaw extend further than the upper teeth. This overlapping can cause severe problems and may require surgery to correct.

Causes of malocclusion

There are several things that may cause malocclusion. A person can suffer from a bad bite due to genetics passed down by one or both parents. Those genetics can include a jaw too narrow to fit all teeth comfortably or hereditary bite problems. Other times, malocclusion does develop because of a person’s habits. Examples of habit-induced or accidental caused malocclusion include:

  • Injury
  • Missing teeth
  • Thumb sucking beyond toddler age
  • Pacifier use beyond toddler age
  • Impacted teeth
  • Failure to wear a retainer to maintain your smile
  • Poor dental health habits

How to treat malocclusion

There are many ways to treat malocclusion. Because each case of malocclusion is extremely individualistic, the proper treatment for you may look different from another with a similar diagnosis. Below are a few common types of treatment:


Braces are a common treatment option for malocclusion. Affordable, accessible, and the tried-and-true method of treatment, braces are generally recommended for mild to severe cases.


Aligners offer a more adaptable treatment option for teeth misalignment. An increasingly popular teeth straightening option, aligners are great for moderate cases to correct alignment problems.


For severe cases, surgery may be necessary to help correct jaw problems. If you’re suffering from an underbite, extreme overbite, or open bite, surgery may be able to guide your jaw into proper alignment.


In some cases, a few problem teeth that are crowding can be the cause of your malocclusion. The solution may require extraction in order to make room for proper alignment.

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Contact Information:

Name: Michael Bertini
Email: [email protected]
Job Title: Consultant

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