What is the quickest malocclusion treatment? (without braces)

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Table of Contents

  1. Crooked Jaw
  2. Malocclusion Is Common
  3. Treatment Options
  4. Aligners Can Help
  5. Resources

Malocclusion is a fancy word for "crooked jaws." Malocclusion is common, and it happens to people all over the world.

Experts disagree about severity and treatment. Must your smile be very crooked before it's fixed, or is a subtle shift enough to worry about?

If you're living with a smile that isn't quite right, these arguments might not mean much to you. You want your teeth to look their very best.

For years, experts turned to braces to correct crooked jaws. Now, they can use wires, masks, or aligners to do the job.

Why do crooked jaws matter?

Glimmering smiles come from straight, aligned teeth. But so does overall mouth health. Malocclusion can harm your dental health in ways you never thought possible.

Experts explain that your teeth should fit together perfectly, with top incisors dropping neatly over their lower counterparts. Your upper teeth protect your cheeks and lips from inadvertent bites, and your lower teeth guard your tongue.

When malocclusion sets in, you could develop injuries, including:

Ulcers
Your mouth is a germ-laden place. An injury is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria to grow and proliferate.
Missing Teeth
An ill fit can lead to chips, cracks, or looseness. In extreme cases, teeth can fall out.
Calluses
Repeated injuries lead to patches of thick, raised skin.

Dental experts separate malocclusions by class:

  • Class 1: mild overbite
  • Class 2: significant overbite
  • Class 3: underbite

Dentists debate about interventions. Some experts claim that grades don't capture62226-1/fulltext) the full degree of malocclusion. They push for a functional assessment of a patient's bite. Only then can they determine if malocclusion interferes with a person's quality of life.

Other dentists say that the term malocclusion is misleading, as it suggests that there is an ideal smile that applies to all people. Instead, they say, a smile is as individual as a thumbprint, and what looks good on one person may look strange or unusual on another.

These debates tend to disappear in dental consultations. Professionals look over dental molds to determine:

  • Overlap. How much of your lower teeth are covered by the upper teeth?
  • Rotation. Are your teeth all facing forward, or do some twist and turn?
  • Position. Is there a gap between your upper and lower teeth when the jaw is closed?

These detailed measurements become part of a treatment plan. And patients benefit from malocclusion care. In a 2016 study, researchers found that patients’ quality of life improved when they got the care they needed to correct malocclusion.

Malocclusion is common.

Teeth come in all shapes and sizes, but smiles tend to look the same all around the globe. Unfortunately, many people show off crooked jaws when they flash a toothy grin.

In a 2013 study conducted in India, 12.5 percent of kids (ages 9 to 12 years old) had jaws so crooked that they needed orthodontic care. In addition, 87.5 percent more had malocclusion that wasn't bad enough to merit treatment.

The researchers decided who should and should not get care. Chances are, some of these kids with crooked teeth wanted to fix their smiles. But per the researchers, that wasn't important right now based on the overall picture of their oral health.

In a global study conducted in 2018, researchers cited these malocclusion rates:

  • Class 1: 74.7 percent
  • Class 2: 19.56 percent
  • Class 3: 5.93 percent

Clearly, many more people had minor cases, and few had major issues. But the prevalence is striking. This is a common problem.

Researchers say genetics play a role, but the story is complicated. No one gene is responsible for twisting jaws. Several genes working in tandem do the job. If both parents have twisted teeth, their children tend to have the same issue.

Malocclusion is common, and it happens to people all over the globe, and genetics often play a role.

Traditional treatment options.

Malocclusion isn't new, and doctors have treated cases for decades. Some of the techniques that were developed years ago are still used today.

For example, severe malocclusion cases are treated with surgery. Experts say the procedure requires general anesthesia, and it can take weeks to heal. In severe cases, jaws are even wired shut during the healing period. When it's complete, braces affix to teeth to straighten them.

Researchers describe plenty of other malocclusion therapies, including:

Appliances
Made of wire or elastic, these devices wrap between and around teeth. They apply pressure and slowly move teeth into the right position.
Chin Caps and Masks
Devices sit on the face and apply pressure to the jaws.
Headgear
Metal wraps around teeth and affixes to the head with a strap.
People often balk at these therapies. They're visible, so it's impossible to hide the therapy from others. They can also be quite uncomfortable. Metal tends to pinch and poke, and masks and straps can cut into skin.

Aligners can help.

Pushing jaws to straighten them is almost always painful. But braces can cause unnecessary pain, and their $5,000+ price tag can make patients cringe. Sometimes, aligners can offer a different route to a straighter smile.

Aligners are clear, molded, plastic trays that sit over teeth. Every few weeks or so, one tray is swapped for another with a slightly different tooth placement. Wear them consistently and change the trays on schedule, and they can and will move teeth and jaws into new positions.

Aligners are transparent. While they aren't invisible, they are much less noticeable than metal brackets and wires. You won’t draw attention to your mouth every time you smile or speak.

Mild cases of malocclusion are perfectly suited for an aligner like Invisalign. But researchers say in studies published in both 2015 and 2019 that even Class 3 cases can be successfully treated with aligners.

For people dealing with malocclusion, it is recommended that you speak with your dentist or orthodontist, who can help you make a decision.

If Invisalign isn't a good solution for your malocclusion, you can turn to other treatment options.

Resources.

Malocclusion of Teeth. (April 2020). U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Defining Malocclusion62226-1/fulltext). (April 2011). Journal of the American Dental Association.

Malocclusion: A Term in Need of Dropping or Redefinition? (2007). British Dental Journal.

Malocclusion and Orthodontics. (July 2019). University of Michigan.

Orthodontic Treatment of Malocclusion and Its Impact on Oral Health-Related Quality of Life. (2016). The Open Dentistry Journal.

A Study of Malocclusion and Orthodontic Treatment Needs According to Dental Aesthetic Index Among School Children of a Hilly State of India. (January 2013). Journal of International Society of Preventive and Community Dentistry.

Skeletal Malocclusion: A Developmental Disorder with a Life-Long Morbidity. (December 2014). Journal of Clinical Medicine Research.

Global Distribution of Malocclusion Traits: A Systematic Review. (2019). Dental Press Journal of Orthodontics.

Treatment for Malocclusion. (July 2019). University of Michigan.

Treatment Options for Class III Malocclusion in Growing Patients with Emphasis on Maxillary Protraction. (2016). Scientifica.

Transparent Aligners: An Invisible Approach to Correct Mild Skeletal Class III Malocclusion. (April 2015). Journal of Pharmacy and Bioallied Sciences.

Orthodontic Treatment of Class Three Malocclusion Using Clear Aligners: A Case Report. (October 2019). Journal of Oral Biology and Craniofacial Research.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to serve as dental or other professional health advice and is not intended to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any condition or symptom. You should consult a dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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