If your teenage child has straight teeth, yet a dentist tells you that you should consider getting braces for the child's teeth, you might wonder how this could be. In most cases, this is due to something called a malocclusion, and here are a few things to understand about this.
What is a malocclusion?
Malocclusion is a word that refers to having a bad bite. A bite is the way the upper and lower jaws fit together when a person's mouth is closed. The right bite occurs when the upper teeth rest just in front of the lower teeth.
If the upper teeth rest too far in front of the lower teeth, it means that the child's upper jaw is bigger than his or her lower jaw. This type of bite is called an overbite. When the lower teeth protrude in front of the upper teeth, it is called an underbite. In either case, the bite is off and needs to be corrected.
There are several reasons malocclusion should be corrected, but one of the main ones is for looks. The way an overbite or underbite looks can be embarrassing to a person, and this is not a problem that will go away on its own. In addition, bad bites can lead to problems with the jaw and problems speaking or eating.
How do braces help?
When braces are used to straighten teeth, they are designed to put pressure on the teeth to make them move into place. When braces are used to fix malocclusion, they are designed in a way to move the jaw into place. Moving the jaw into place takes time, but it can be accomplished in most cases with braces. If the bite is severe, the child may have to go through a special type of surgery first that will move the jaw into a better position.
Orthodontists often use rubber bands with braces to make the jaw move. Rubber bands attached to the brackets can help put enough pressure on the jaw to move it. An orthodontist will have to carefully evaluate your child's mouth to determine where to place these rubber bands in order for the jaw to move into the proper place.
Malocclusion is one of the most common problems orthodontists can fix with braces. If you would like to learn more about orthodontics, contact an orthodontist like Orthodontic Associates to set up a consultation visit with your child.