Bank Towers, Suite 901, 321 Spruce Street, Scranton, PA 18503
Phone: (570) 969-9650 E-mail:
This article was prepared to help you determine if you or your child have some teeth arrangement problems (malocclusion). Some of the more common forms of malocclusions are shown to help you compare with your own teeth.
More than one-half of all American children and adults suffer from one or more of these problems and could benefit from orthodontic treatment. These are some of the lifelong benefits you may receive if your teeth are properly arranged.
Even though you or your child may have a nice smile, many of these problems affecting the health of teeth and gums may be present.
Teeth in a person's upper and lower jaws are designed to fit together in chewing much like gears mesh in a machine. Good meshing of the teeth helps you chew food properly and allows the chewing forces to be evenly distributed throughout all the teeth.
Upper front teeth are forward of the lower teeth. This problem may be caused by long term thumb sucking or tongue thrusting (reverse swallow) habits. The front teeth are very prone to accident and, if fractured, become severely weakened. Forces when biting the teeth together are placed excessively on the back teeth without distribution to the upper front teeth. Spaces often develop between the upper front teeth. There is usually difficulty in closing the lips over teeth with a tendency for mouth breathing and possible chronic bronchial infections. The gum tissue around the front teeth, when constantly exposed to the air, may become red and swollen.
Eruption into the mouth of a permanent tooth is definitely impaired. This is seen in X-rays. Note the dark cystic area around the crown of an impacted upper cuspis (shown by black arrow). These cysts often cause bone destruction and root loss (resorption) on neighboring teeth. These impacted teeth should generally be brought into the mouth and placed into proper occlusion with orthodontic appliances. (Also note missing permanent tooth; shown by the X, needed to replace baby tooth)
The contacts between the right and left upper and lower front teeth do not line up when the teeth are biting together. This indicates an asymmetrical jaw relationship, posterior cross bite, or shifted teeth to one side of the mouth. This causes muscle imbalance and increased muscle tension which may cause jaw joint clicking and pain.
Spaces are seen between the biting surfaces of some of the upper and lower teeth, either in front or back, when the other teeth are biting together. This places too much chewing force on the teeth that are touching (chewing forces should act on all teeth as a unit.) A widened periodontal ligament occurs which is more prone to periodontal breakdown. A patient may not be able to effectively bite food and may tend to swallow larger than normal mouthfuls that are difficult to digest. The teeth and gums are not exercised properly and become unhealthy. (Note swollen and reddened gums around the lower front teeth.)
Upper front teeth lap over lower front teeth too much. Lower front teeth often bite into the gums of the roof of the mouth causing gum irritations. Food is impacted into the crevices between the gums and the teeth. This promotes gum disease and bone loss around the upper and lower front teeth.
Spaces between the sides of the teeth that should not be there are due to congenitally missing teeth, lost teeth, overbites, or teeth that are to small for the size of the jaws. Spaces allow food to be trapped between the teeth which contributes to the cause of gum and bone problems.
Upper teeth bite inside the lower teeth. Forces in chewing are misdirected to the teeth and is often a major contributing cause of one loss around the affected teeth. Cross bite may lock the lower jaw into an improper bite position causing jaw joint clicking, pain, or other abnormal symptoms. This condition may give a person an appearance of a "bull dog" jaw and a facial expression of frowning.
Not enough room seems to be available for all the teeth to be evenly positioned along the jaw bone. Teeth seem to be too big for the jaws. Teeth are usually difficult to clean and pockets often develop trapping food and dental plaque which causes gum disease and eventual bone loss around the teeth. Also, teeth are unsightly and is often the main reason people want to have their teeth "straightened".