Malocclusion is the technical word for crooked teeth. When you consider all the how many teeth are in the average human mouth, it is not surprising that malocclusion can present itself in many forms.
The number of configurations may surprise you:
When teeth slant forward, it is called upper protrusion, but this is commonly, if unkindly, referred to as “buck teeth.”
An overbite is when the upper front teeth come down too far over the lower teeth when the mouth is closed. An underbite is the reverse – the upper front teeth close farther back than the lower front teeth. An open bite refers to a bite in which the upper don’t overlap the lower teeth. This can occur on the whole bite or just one side.
Tooth rotation is one of the most common forms of malocclusion. Rotated teeth appear as if they are twisting out of place. Tooth rotation can create the illusion of uneven coloring because of the way light reflects off the face of teeth.
When the upper and lower palate are misaligned to the point where the upper teeth close onto the wrong side of the lower teeth, it is called a cross bite.
In some rare cases – called transposition – teeth erupt in spots where other teeth should be. For example, a canine (pointed tooth) comes in where an incisor (front biting tooth) should be.
Many people with crooked teeth are too self-conscious to smile; most want straight white teeth. But aesthetics are not the only issue at play. Crooked teeth can increase the risk of cavities, tooth damage, and TMD temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder. Children with crooked teeth may have difficulty learning how to speak, and if they can’t chew their food, they may risk being undernourished.
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