Common Orthodontic Problems

Crowding – Crowding is the lack of space for all the teeth to fit normally within the jaws. The teeth may be rotated or displaced when there is crowding. It occurs when there is disharmony in the tooth to jaw size relationship or the teeth are larger than the available space. Crowding can be caused by improper eruption of teeth and early or late loss of primary teeth. Crowding makes cleaning of all the surfaces of teeth difficult, resulting in dental decay or gum disease. It also makes your smile less attractive. Spaces can be created by reducing individual tooth size, expansion of the arches, or extraction of teeth.

Spacing – Spacing is an excess of space for your teeth. This generally occurs when the teeth are smaller than the available space. It can also be caused by protrusive teeth, missing teeth, impacted teeth, or abnormal tissue attachment to the gums. Spaces can be closed by moving the teeth together and properly aligning them within the arch.

“Buck Teeth” or “Overbite” – A common problem in young patients is an ‘overbite’ with upper teeth that stick out, commonly known as ‘buck teeth.’ This occurs when the development of the lower jaw is deficient, preventing the upper and lower front teeth from touching. Early orthodontic treatment can corrected protruding upper teeth, preventing any trauma to the front teeth.

Cross bite with a narrow upper jaw– Remarkable results can be achieved with expansion appliances in young patients during their period of maximum growth. Between the ages of 8 and 14, an expander can be used to correct a narrow upper jaw. This is the most effective time to correct this type of problem because the upper jaw palatal suture closes drastically after this time period, making such correction much more difficult. If this problem is not addressed until adulthood, it would require either a jaw surgery to correct a severely narrow upper arch.

Underbite – This is a bite where the lower jaw appears stronger than the upper jaw. Most of the time it is actually caused by lack of growth of the upper jaw. When found this condition early, appliances such as a Reverse Headgear (also called Face Mask) can help controlling the lower jaw, allowing the upper jaw to “catch” up. This is one of the most difficult conditions to correct in orthodontics due to a strong genetic disposition, leading to unfavorable growth pattern of the lower jaw even with the best attempt by an orthodontist.

Openbite – This is where there is a gap between the upper and lower front teeth. This is usually caused by a thumb sucking or a mouth breathing habit. With habit-taming appliances, open bite can be corrected if caught early. However, similar to underbite, if a child has a strong genetic disposition for a skeletal open bite (not habit induced), it becomes a difficult problem to correct just with orthodontic treatment alone.

Impacted teethImpacted teeth can be caused by improper positioning of the developing tooth. This can cause the tooth to fail to erupt into the mouth. Impaction can also be caused by early loss of primary teeth or crowding of teeth. Wisdom teeth are the most commonly impacted teeth. Canines and premolars can also be impacted. Impacted teeth can cause damage to the adjacent teeth, leave unwanted spaces, or cause asymmetric alignment of the teeth. Impacted teeth can be corrected by exposing the tooth and guiding its eruption into a proper position with braces and other orthodontic appliances.

Missing teeth – Missing teeth is the absence of teeth that should normally be present. This can be caused by trauma or lack of development. Missing teeth can result in asymmetric alignment and improper functioning of the teeth. Depending on the situation, the space can be closed or opened for a tooth replacement using braces. A bridge or dental implants are restorative options if the missing space is to be preserved.