Malocclusion: Causes, Types, and Treatments


Malocclusion of the teeth is also known as ‘Bad bites’, ‘misaligned teeth’ or ‘underbite.’ Malocclusion is when the upper and lower teeth are not aligned when you close your mouth. Improper position of upper to lower teeth can cause several oral health problems. Some health problems may arise, depending on the severity of the malocclusion and how good the treatment of the misaligned teeth is.


Malocclusion typically appears as crowded or crooked teeth. The misaligned teeth can affect the jaw bone structure and make a face appear abnormal. Also, the teeth do not fit as they should when biting, which can cause discomfort when eating. The digesting system can work harder because the foods are not chewed properly before swallowing. Hence, malocclusion can induce digestive problems in the long run.


Besides, malocclusion also makes it challenging to speak clearly, including speaking with a slight lisp. People with teeth malocclusion generally experience some issues such as:

  • breathing through the mouth rather than the nose
  • speech changes
  • biting tongue or inner cheek 
  • changes to facial structure
  • difficulty chewing food



What is the most common cause of malocclusion?

What are the 3 classes of malocclusion?

What are the different types of malocclusion?

How is malocclusion treated?


What is the most common cause of malocclusion?

Malocclusion of teeth is generally diagnosed through routine dental exams. The teeth and jaw structure could grow into a particular shape because of a few strong reasons, among others:

  • Genetic

Malocclusion is most often hereditary or genetic. Meaning it is passed down through generations. Children will inherit jawbones and face structure from their parents.

  • Thumb-sucking

Vigorous and persistent thumb-sucking can sometimes cause the teeth and jawbone structure disproportionately. Pay attention to your babies and toddlers if they have thumb-sucking habits, as it can affect the jaw or the shape and roof of the mouth.

  • Bottle feeding

Consider limiting the use of bottles for your toddlers as it may affect the growth of their teeth and jawbones. 

  • Tooth loss or extra teeth

The lack of teeth will make the tooth structure incomplete. So is the case with too many teeth. Teeth crowding can make it challenging to maintain healthy teeth and gums. 


What are the 3 classes of malocclusion?

Malocclusions are divided into three different classes based on type and severity. A dental exam will diagnose and classify the misaligned teeth into one of these:

  • Class I

The most common malocclusion is class I. Someone is diagnosed with malocclusion class I if the upper molar teeth stick out and overlap the lower teeth, but the bite is normal. Category I is classified as not severe and relatively easy to treat.

  • Class II

The class II malocclusion is similar to class I, where the upper jaw overlaps the lower jaw. But in this class, the overlap has a more severe overlap. The lower jaw is usually smaller than the upper jaw in the class II malocclusion.

  • Class III

Class III malocclusion is the opposite of class I and class II. It is when the lower teeth stick out farther than the upper jaw, resulting in a severe underbite. 


What are the different types of malocclusion?

Misalignment of the teeth and jaws has many types. Bad bite disorders are experienced by people with malocclusion and result in orthodontic issues. The types of symptoms and cases are known as:

  • Overbite

An overbite is where the lower teeth are normal, but the upper teeth overlap the lower teeth. A severe overbite can harm the gums and the mouth’s roof.

  • Underbite

The opposite of overbite is an underbite. An underbite is where the lower front teeth overlap with the upper front teeth. 

  • Openbite

An openbite is when the upper and lower front teeth do not come together, creating a gap that leads straight into the mouth. The problem of an open bite can also happen on the sides of the mouth.

  • Crossbite

A crossbite is when the upper front teeth bite inside the lower teeth. It can happen on either or both sides of the jaw. The condition can also affect your front or back teeth.

  • Spacing

When there’s too much or too little space between the teeth, it affects the teeth’ job to erupt and function properly. 

  • Overcrowding

Crooked or overcrowded teeth are the opposite of spacing— overcrowding happens when there’s insufficient space due to overlapping or crooked teeth.

  • Overjet

An overjet is when the top front teeth are more extended than the lower teeth. An overjet can cause biting, chewing and speaking issues.


How is malocclusion treated?

Treatments for malocclusion vary mainly based on the severity of the disorders. Most treatments need patience and surgery. The treatments that are known to treat malocclusions include:

  • Braces

Wearing braces to correct malocclusion has been proven to be a suitable treatment. Sometimes, certain teeth must be extracted before tooth braces are set up. Braces will take some time to straighten the teeth and jaw to fix your smile and bite. Depending on the severity, your orthodontist will prescribe metal, ceramic or lingual braces. 

  • Tooth aligner 

Tooth aligners can treat many types of malocclusion. Removable tooth aligners are custom-made for you. They are usually transparent and unnoticed because they are made from clear plastic trays that gradually align your teeth to their correct place. The treatment duration varies depending on the condition of the abnormal bite. 

  • Teeth removal

The orthodontist might remove certain teeth to make space, allowing braces or other orthodontic devices to re-align the teeth. If the jaw does not have enough room to accommodate the adult teeth, the orthodontist will remove a tooth or some teeth. 

  • Surgery

In rare cases, surgery is necessary. The surgery might be required to correct inherited issues, whether on the upper or lower jaw, to lengthen or shorten them to reshape the jaw structure. 



Taking care of your child’s dental health starts early in childhood. Preventing the condition can be challenging since most cases are largely hereditary. Environmental factors can affect the growth of your jaw and teeth. 


Parents of young children must pay close attention to their habits to help reduce changes in jaw development. Consider not overusing bottle feeding and pacifier for your babies. Children should be discouraged from thumb-sucking as young as possible too.


Orthodontic treatment is for everyone, regardless of age. If you want to know the best course of dental care or discuss treatment options, schedule an appointment with Eastman Dental. We will advise the best treatments and procedures for you and your family. The earlier you treat malocclusion, the better the outcome.