Malocclusion in Children: What You Need to Know

boy with his dentist
  • Malocclusion is a common condition affecting around one in five children, causing misalignment of teeth and potential oral health issues.
  • The cause can be either genetic or lifestyle choices such as thumb sucking, pacifier use, grinding/clenching teeth, etc.
  • Treatment options include orthodontics (braces/retainers), surgery, or cosmetic dentistry (veneers/bonding).
  • Regular visits to the dentist can help catch any potential issues early and ensure long-term oral health.

Malocclusion is a common condition that affects many children and teens. In fact, according to the American Association of Orthodontists, around one in five kids suffers from misaligned teeth. This specific condition can affect a child’s oral health and cause other physical issues, including difficulty with speech.

This blog post will discuss the possible causes of malocclusion and how confident lifestyle choices may contribute to the problem.

What is Malocclusion?

Malocclusion means “bad bite” in Latin and describes the misalignment of teeth when the upper and lower jaw doesn’t fit together correctly. It can cause overcrowding, crooked teeth, overbite, underbite, or crossbite. While many people have some degree of malocclusion, most cases aren’t severe enough to require treatment. However, some patients do need professional attention to maintain good dental health.

Malocclusions can lead to several oral health issues if left untreated. For example, overcrowding may cause periodontal problems due to incorrect brushing techniques or difficulty flossing between all teeth. Overly spaced teeth are also prone to gum recession due to prolonged exposure between them. In addition, misaligned bites may lead to jaw pain or excessive wear on specific areas of the tooth enamel.

To prevent these issues from occurring or worsening over time, it is essential to visit your dentist regularly so they can monitor any changes in your bite pattern or tooth alignment. They will also be able to provide advice on proper dental hygiene techniques that should be used at home to keep your smile looking its best!

Causes of Malocclusion

cute little girl in bed sucking her thumb

Several factors can lead to malocclusion. These causes can be broken down into two categories: genetics and lifestyle choices.

Genetics & dental development

Malocclusion can have a genetic component; some people are born with misaligned teeth due to their natural facial structure or genetics. However, many cases of malocclusion are caused by improper dental development – when the teeth do not develop correctly in terms of position or size – or from complications during dental development such as overcrowding or premature loss of baby teeth.

Lifestyle choices

Teeth misalignment can occur due to certain lifestyle decisions, such as prolonged thumb sucking or pacifier use. The habit puts pressure on the teeth and can cause them to move out of position. Other practices like grinding or clenching the teeth can also contribute to malocclusion over time.

Treatment Options

Fortunately, there are several treatment options for children with malocclusion. Depending on the severity of the condition, the dentist may suggest the following options:


young girl with dental braces smiling

The most common treatment option for malocclusion is orthodontics. Orthodontic treatment usually involves dental braces or other appliances such as retainers, headgear, or aligners. These appliances are designed to help realign the teeth and correct any misalignment in the jaw. Orthodontic treatment typically takes months or years to complete and may require regular visits to an orthodontist. This treatment is best suited for those with severe malocclusion that affects their bite or speech.


Another possible way to treat malocclusion is with surgery. Surgery can be used to correct more severe cases of malocclusion, such as when the jaws do not fit together correctly, or there are other structural issues present. Surgery usually requires a hospital stay and recovery time after it has been completed, so it’s essential to speak with your doctor about the risks associated with surgery before deciding if it’s right for you.

Veneers or bonding

Some people opt for cosmetic dentistry treatments such as veneers or bonding to improve their smile and reduce discomfort from malocclusion. These treatments are often less invasive than orthodontic treatment or surgery and can be completed in just one visit to a dentist’s office. They can also temporarily improve the appearance of misaligned teeth until more permanent treatments like braces can be used.

Malocclusion is a common problem among children that can lead to further complications if left untreated. While there is no single cause for malocclusion, genetics and improper development are two common causes that often require orthodontic intervention, such as braces or retainers to fix properly align the teeth and jaws. Fortunately, any potential issues can usually be caught early on through regular visits to the dentist’s office so that proper treatment can begin immediately; this will help ensure your child’s long-term oral health for years to come!

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