Malocclusion is a big word but to put it simply, it is a condition in which the teeth do not align properly. On the other hand, occlusion refers to the alignment of teeth and how the upper and lower teeth fit together. This is also known as your bite. Occlusion, which is the normal state, indicates that the upper teeth fit slightly over the lower teeth. In this case, the points of the molars fit the grooves of the opposite molar.
It is interesting to note, the upper teeth keep you from biting your cheeks and lips. Meanwhile, your lower teeth protect your tongue.
How does Malocclusion Occur?
Malocclusion is often inherited, says Dr. Priscilla Larson of Sly Ortho. As a result of genetics, you may have a difference between the size of the upper and lower jaws, or between the jaw and tooth size. Typically, malocclusion causes overcrowding of teeth or an abnormal bite. In addition, the shape of the jaws or birth defects such as cleft lip and palate can also be causes of malocclusion.
Other causes include:
- Thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, pacifier use beyond the age 3, or prolonged use of a bottle
- Also, extra teeth, lost teeth, impacted teeth, or abnormally shaped teeth
- Ill-fitting dental fillings, crowns, dental appliances, retainers, or braces
- Misalignment of jaw fractures after a severe injury
- Tumors of the mouth and jaw
The Different Categories of Malocclusion and What They Mean
- Class 1 malocclusion is the most common. The bite is normal, but the upper teeth slightly overlap the lower teeth.
- Class 2 malocclusion is called retrognathism or overbite. It occurs when the upper jaw and teeth severely overlap the bottom jaw and teeth.
- Class 3 malocclusionis called prognathism or underbite. It occurs when the lower jaw protrudes or juts forward, causing the lower jaw and teeth to overlap the upper jaw and teeth.
Why Use Elastic Bands with Braces?
Elastics or rubber bands are an important part of the orthodontic treatment for malocclusion. That is because they provide the force necessary to move the teeth and jaw into proper alignment. There are several parts to braces.
- First, the brackets — square metal pieces bonded directly to your teeth.
- Through these brackets runs the archwire, which, when attached to the brackets, provides the force that helps move the teeth.
- Connecting the archwire to the brackets are the ligatures. Ligatures are little rubber bands that wrap around the individual braces and hold the archwire in place. They are the part of the braces kids don’t mind wearing because they get to pick the colors. These rubber bands stay on between visits; the orthodontist will change them each time the wire is tightened or the braces are adjusted.
- The final parts are interarch elastic bands. These adjust the bite and jaw position. They are connected to the brackets with hooks, usually connecting the top tooth bracket with the bottom tooth bracket. Doing so helps adjust the position of the teeth in the mouth as well as the position of the jaw. Interarch bands help ensure teeth line up properly. These must be removed during meals. They must also be removed when cleaning your teeth and brackets. In addition, they are replaced daily due to stretch.
Not everyone who gets braces needs interarch elastic bands. In fact, whether or not you have bands depends on your existing jaw alignment and what the orthodontist recommends for your malocclusion.
What Can You Expect When Wearing Elastic Bands on Braces?
Wearing elastics will initially make your teeth sore but the pain will go away after a few days. However, you must wear them continuously. Giving your teeth a break from the elastics will only make them feel sore again the next time you put them on. Plus, removing the bands will delay completion of your malocclusion treatment.
How to Wear Elastic Bands on Braces
Dr. Larson and her staff provide you with complete instructions on how to remove and replace the bands. It’s really quite easy.
Here is a sample of the instructions you receive for braces. Follow these consistently to ensure that treatment goes as planned.
- Wear your elastic bands at all times unless otherwise instructed.
- Only remove elastic bands when you eat or while brushing and flossing your teeth.
- Change your elastics at least four times a day. The reason elastics must be changed four times a day is because they lose their effectiveness over time. A good schedule is to replace your bands after each meal and right before going to bed each night.
Improving Malocclusion through Orthodontic Treatment Relies on You
Consistently wearing elastic bands on your braces is one of the most critical elements when determining the length of your treatment. With the care and maintenance of your braces, it will require extra effort from you but it will be worth it.
Our top priority at Sky Ortho is to give you the best smile possible in the shortest period of time as possible. Your cooperation in wearing your elastics as instructed will help achieve this goal.
Braces are an Important Life Investment
Braces are a big investment, but they have the opportunity to change your life for the better. Investing in your oral and dental health, whether you are a child or an adult, can help you with your speech, confidence, health, and many other areas of life.
Make an appointment today to meet Dr. Larson if you suspect malocclusion.