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Misaligned teeth: Causes, Classification & Treatment Options

May 11, 2022
by: Dr. Ammons

If you are not as pleased with your smile as you could be, schedule an appointment for an evaluation. Teeth straightening options have come a long way in recent years- there are choices that are discreet and fast, often providing results in less than a year.

Want to learn more? Talk to the team at Ammons Dental by Design today!

Misaligned teeth

When it comes to misalignment of your teeth, there are different types and classifications. The severity of your misalignment often dictates which treatment options are most prudent- and likely to be effective. Some of the types of dental misalignment issues include:
  • Crossbite is typically caused by a jaw misalignment- and it manifests in the upper and lower jaw not meeting and lining-up properly.
  • An Overbite is the condition when your upper teeth significantly overlap the lower teeth in the mouth. Severe cases can make it difficult or painful to eat.
  • Underbites, also called prognathism, are more serious than overbites and can cause aesthetic issues to the entire face. When you have an underbite, the lower teeth protrude further than the upper teeth.
  • Crooked teeth vary in their degree of severity, and they may cause more problems than simply aesthetic. Crooked teeth typically refer to how the teeth meet and fit together when you close your mouth. While 'crooked teeth' can describe most misalignments, the term usually focuses on the way the faces of the teeth meet.
  • Malocclusion is a common issue of the upper and lower teeth being crowded and not aligning properly when you close your mouth. This is another word for crooked teeth conditions.
  • Gaps or excessive spacing are also forms of misalignment in the mouth. Too much spacing between the teeth can make it difficult to bite or to properly brush and floss.
  • Crowded teeth can overlap and push other teeth out of alignment. This is often seen in patients with small or underdeveloped jaws.
  • Open bite refers to how the incisor teeth meet. If they do not meet properly and overlap, it can cause problems with biting or eating.

Diagnosing your misalignment and determining the next steps begins with a visit to your dental provider. Some patients may have more than one type of dental misalignment to be corrected.

Causes of Misalignment Issues

There could be a lot of reasons why you have misaligned teeth. The most prevalent reason is likely genetics; if your parents had misalignments- like crooked teeth or a severe overbite- you may also have one. Some other causes of misalignment include these:
  • Thumb sucking after age three
  • Breathing through the mouth rather than the nose
  • Pacifier use after age three
  • Cleft lip or palate
  • Enlarged adenoids
  • Mouth or tooth trauma
  • Ill-fitting dental work or hardware

Your dentist may be able to determine the cause of your misalignment based on their assessment of your mouth. This may help point toward the most prudent treatment approach, too.

Classifications of Misalignment Issues

When discussing and comparing the types of misalignments, there is a classification system in-place. Your provider may use a different gauge, but the following criteria ranks both the severity of your misalignment, as well as the repercussions of the misalignment on your oral health and wellbeing.

The classifications of dental misalignments are:

  • Class I: Class I Malocclusions are most common and are typically some degree of a dental overbite. These misalignments do not usually impact the ability to speak or eat.
  • Class II: Class II is a bit more sever than Class I, often referred to as retrognathism.
  • Class III: Class III, or prognathism, is the most serious and severe of the misalignment classifications. Class III is a more serious case of and overbite or an underbite that causes difficulty with speaking or chewing.

When you are talking about Class III Malocclusions, there is usually pain involved and surgery may be clinically indicated to resolve the misalignment.

Treatment Options Available

The treatment options for misalignments vary depending on the severity of your condition. The most popular ways to straighten teeth and improve smiles are usually braces and Invisalign, which are clear alignment trays.

Your dental provider will be able to tell you if your misalignment merits straightening- as well as which methods make the most sense for you. When it comes to correcting a dental misalignment, the sooner you do it, the better. That is not to say that it is ever too late for corrective measures, it is simply easier when your adult teeth are continuing to develop.

Treatment options include:

Invisible clear aligners are fast becoming the most popular choice among dental patients straightening their teeth. The applications of aligners, like Invisalign, are wide- though they are not the recommended approach for severe or Class III misalignments. In these instances, metal braces would be more pragmatic and effective.

Misaligned Teeth FAQs

Here are a few of the most common questions that we get regarding misalignment of teeth- and the treatment options available for patients:
Can Invisalign fix an overbite?
Yes, Invisalign is effective at correcting an overbite, depending on the severity. In extreme cases, your dental provider may recommend metal braces for the added support to fix a severe overbite. If you have an overbite, talk to your dentist to find the most viable option for you.
How long does misalignment treatment take?
Invisalign treatment usually lasts between six months and 18 months, about one year on average. Remember that traditional metal braces are typically worn for a minimum of two years to straighten the teeth.
What is a crossbite?
A crossbite is a type of dental misalignment that affects where the upper teeth sit in the mouth. They become positioned behind the lower teeth, which can cause issues with speech and eating.
Can Invisalign help a crossbite?
Clear aligners, like Invisalign, can help to correct a crossbite. Since Invisalign is effective at straightening bite issues, it will likely be effective at treating your crossbite, too.
How many people wear Invisalign aligners?
Nearly 12 million patients wear or have worn Invisalign aligners across the globe. If you are considering clear aligners for yourself, you have plenty of company!
Are there any misalignment issues that Invisalign can't fix?
There are some serious misalignment issues that Invisalign is not effective at correcting. When it comes to severe dental misalignments, including Class III conditions, the best solution may be surgery or metal braces.

Invisalign is not recommended for treating gaps wider than 6mm per arch of the mouth, or for patients that have had or that plan to have dental work done, like veneers, crowns, or bridges. Talk to your dentist to learn more.
What is the most common type of misalignment issue?
Overbite is the most common type of misalignment, while underbite is often considered the most significant.
What is the main cause of misalignment, like a crossbite?
Crossbites, and other alignment issues, are often caused by genetics. That is, if your parents had crooked or misaligned teeth, you might, also. Some other reasons for a crossbite are:

• Short dental arches
• Having too many teeth
• Loss of baby teeth late
• Dental or mouth trauma
• Breathing issues
• Thumb sucking
• Cleft lip or palate

Genetics are an important part in how your teeth and jaw develop and grow- hereditary issues can dictate whether you will have dental misalignment at some point in your life. Development in childhood is impacted by genetics, as well as behavioral and environmental factors, too.
Why bother straightening misaligned teeth?
So, the answer to that is quite subjective. If your misaligned teeth do not bother you- or if you like them- then leave them be. But, if they cause issues with speaking clearly or eating comfortably, you should look at treatment and correction options.

Furthermore, misaligned teeth may be more difficult to brush and floss which could lead to gum disease. Did you know that gum disease is the number-one reason for adult tooth loss? Talk to your dentist about whether your misalignment is something that could become worse or cause complications over time.
Where can I find misalignment treatment nearby?
Invisalign is becoming far more popular and widely available than ever before. You can search online to find a specialized provider of Invisalign aligner systems in your area- or you can ask your current dentist for more information.

If you live in South Carolina, you can talk to the team at Ammons Dental by Design, to schedule an appointment at one of their locations in downtown Charleston, Summerville, Camden, or James Island.

Ammons Dental by Design offers it all for their patients- from straightening your teeth to emergency dental, too. If you have misaligned teeth, the first thing to do is to get an evaluation and consult with Dr. Michael Ammons. Determining a cause and diagnosis can make treatment options more effective, too. Contact us to schedule your appointment at our Camden, Charleston, James Island, or Summerville locations today.

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Multiple Convenient Dental Locations Near Charleston

Ammons Dental By Design has four locations so you can find the most convenient office for your family.
1015 Fair St.
Camden, SC 29020
Monday – Thursday:
8am – 5pm
P: (803) 969-0365
F: (803) 432-2625
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14 Lockwood Dr,
Charleston, SC 29401
(Suite A on the exterior of the Ashley House Building, across from the marina)
Monday – Thursday:
7am - 4pm
P: (843) 380-2734
F: (843) 577-4464
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1739-B Maybank Hwy.
Charleston, SC 29412
Tuesday – Friday:
7am - 4pm
P: (843) 380-8889
F: (843) 990-9504
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1710 Old Trolley., Ste.B
Summerville, SC 29485
Tuesday – Thursday: 8am – 5pm
Monday & Friday*: 8am – 5pm
*Rotating schedule
P: (843) 380-8904
F: (843) 871-0617
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