Common Orthodontic Problems

Malocclusion literally means “bad bite”, and it is the leading reason why people see an orthodontist. There are many different forms of malocclusion which can lead to a variety of complications.

Your malocclusion could be caused by factors such as genetics (eg: a disproportionate jaw) or environmental factors (eg: thumb sucking).


Crowding is caused when there is a discrepancy between the size of the teeth and the size of the jaw.  For example, large teeth and/or small jaws.

Crowding will get worse over time as one tooth pushes over the other, leading to overlapping teeth. Crowded teeth are also harder to clean than straight teeth, which could result in cavities and tooth decay. Crowding can often be corrected by expansion, avoiding the need for tooth removal.


Spacing literally means you have too much room between your teeth and can occur if teeth are missing, small or if the dental arch is too wide.


An overjet is noted when the upper front teeth stick out excessively compared to the lower front teeth.  Possible causes of this protrusion are: a thumb or finger sucking habit, an underdeveloped lower jaw, a narrow upper jaw or crowding. Protrusive upper front teeth could be more susceptible to future trauma.


In an underbite, the lower jaw is longer than the upper jaw which causes the lower teeth to protrude in front of the upper teeth. It is best to diagnose an underbite early.


An overbite or deep bite, occurs when the upper front teeth cover the lower front teeth excessively in the vertical plane. A deep overbite can lead to enamel wear of teeth and in extreme cases it can cause the lower teeth to bite into the roof of the mouth.


A crossbite or reverse bite, occurs when the upper teeth are positioned within the inside of the lower teeth. A crossbite can cause enamel wear of teeth, further displacement and crowding of teeth, displacement and asymmetry of the jaw.


An openbite is seen when there is no vertical overlap or contact of the upper and lower front teeth when the back teeth are biting together. Possible causes of an openbite include: thumb or finger sucking habit, tongue thrusting or jaw malalignment. Several associated problems include: aesthetic concerns, speech difficulties and chewing issues.

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