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What is malocclusion

What is malocclusion?

Malocclusion simply means misaligned teeth. Occlusion is the alignment of the upper and lower teeth in relation to each other. In addition to misaligned teeth, malocclusion can also occur if your upper and lower jaws aren’t aligned properly. It is usually hereditary or environmental, but in some cases, it can be caused due to poor oral health and hygiene habits.

Most people regard malocclusion as simply having crooked or misaligned front teeth, but there are different types of malocclusion that can affect a person’s life in many ways.

Types of disease



Anterior or posterior crossbite

Anterior or posterior crossbite





Open Bite

Open Bite


  • Hereditary
  • Oral habits like thumb sucking, tongue thrust, jaw clenching, etc
  • Pacifier usage beyond the age of 3
  • Presence of extra, impacted, or abnormally shaped teeth
  • Congenitally missing teeth
  • Dental extraction
  • Ill-fitting dental fillings, crowns, appliances, retainers, etc.
  • Poor management of jaw fractures
  • Oral tumors


  • Poor or abnormal facial appearance or smile
  • Difficulty in brushing and maintaining dental hygiene
  • Foul-smelling breath
  • Frequent tongue or cheek bite
  • Difficulty in pronouncing certain letters and sounds
  • Difficulty in chewing foods
  • Poor oral habits like mouth breathing, lip biting
  • Pain and clicking sound from the jaw


Malocclusion is easily visible and can often be self-diagnosed. If your teeth are misshapen, misaligned, or if you can’t rest your jaws on top of each other with all occlusal teeth surfaces in contact, then it is a safe bet that you have a malocclusion.

Self Diagnosis


 It is localized malocclusion caused due to displaced, missing, abnormal, or impacted teeth. It usually presents with a normal molar relationship but localized misalignment like maxillary protrusion, overlapped or overcrowded teeth, rotated teeth, etc.

Risks & Complications

While malocclusion itself is not painful, it can lead to other tooth and bone issues, leading to discomfort in a roundabout way. Some of the complications of malocclusion are:

  • Difficulty in maintaining oral hygiene
  • Foul-smelling breath
  • Tooth decay
    Periodontal Disease
  • Difficulty in Chewing
  • Excess attrition of Teeth
  • Speech Impediments
  • Self Esteem Issues
  • Pain and Clicking sound when moving the lower jaw


Risks If left untreated

  • Prevention



    You can follow the given tips to prevent malocclusion:

    • Maintain good oral hygiene
    • Start taking care of your child’s teeth early
    • Parent education regarding oral hygiene maintenance in babies
    • Proper care of milk (deciduous) teeth
    • Early intervention for supernumerary/extra teeth
    • Prevent oral habits like tongue thrusting, lip biting, thumb sucking, etc.
  • Myths and facts associated with malocclusion

    Myths and facts associated with malocclusion

    Myths and facts associated with malocclusion

    Myth: Any dentist can treat a malocclusion.

    Fact: While any dentist can perform a diagnostic evaluation for your crooked teeth and explain your treatment options to you, you need an orthodontist for a comprehensive and proper treatment of crooked teeth.

    Myth: Orthodontic treatment is performed only in teenagers.

    Fact: Age does not matter too much when it comes to orthodontic treatment. While braces were only performed for teenagers in the past, nowadays, even people in their 30s and 40s are getting braces treatment for a better smile. 

    Myth: Orthodontic treatments take too long to be effective.

    Fact: Complete orthodontic treatment takes around 10-18 months. The braces start fixing the teeth slowly and steadily immediately after they are applied, and you can notice most of the facial and dental changes made by braces within 2-3 months of starting the treatment.

    Myth: Braces are painful.

    Fact: You can experience sharp pain due to braces, but it is very rare. Most of the time, if pain occurs, it is very bearable and at most, you will experience minor discomfort.

    Myth: Metal braces are the only treatment option.

    Fact: Nowadays, in addition to metal braces, there are several other treatment options like aligners, ceramic braces, lingual braces, etc., that provide the same correction but are more aesthetically pleasing.

    Myth: Braces can weaken the teeth and lead to tooth loss.

    Fact: If dental braces are kept on for too long, they can lead to root resorption and tooth loss, but that is extremely rare, and if the dentist is experienced, you will have no problem.

  • Celebrities that have gotten orthodontic treatment

    Celebrities that have gotten orthodontic treatment

    Celebrities that have gotten orthodontic treatment

    Aishwarya Rai: Known for her effervescent smile, Aishwarya Rai is one of the most celebrated and beautiful women in the world. She benefitted dental braces treatment for her perfect smile.

    Priyanka Chopra: Crowned as Miss World in 2000, Priyanka Chopra’s smile has dazzled people all over the world. She is one of the biggest names in both Bollywood and Hollywood alike.

    Shruti Hassan: Shruti Hassan is easily one of the most recognizable and beloved actresses in Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu cinema. Her beautiful and perfect smile has dazzled her fans ever since they first saw her.

    Shreyas Talpade: Shreya Talpade and his perfect smile has made us all laugh at some point in our lives. He also underwent braces treatment as a child.

    Rajneesh Duggal: Crowned as Mr. India in 2003, Rajneesh Duggal is known for his smoldering looks in both his modeling and acting career.

When to consult a dentist?

You can get orthodontic treatment at any stage of life, but generally, the earlier it is, the easier it becomes to adjust and correct tooth positioning. The best age for orthodontic treatment is 10-14 years old, as during this time, the jaw is still developing, and teeth are still erupting. You should contact a dentist or orthodontist if you have:

  • Difficulty in Brushing
  • Foul Breath
  • Difficulty in Chewing
  • Jaw Pain
  • Open or Crossbite
  • Recurring Dental Caries, etc.

Questions to ask your orthodontist

How long will I have to keep my braces?
Is there an alternative to braces for me?
What is the total cost of the treatment?
Which type of braces is best for me?
Will I need retainers after the surgery?
What are the pros and cons of getting braces?
What kind of dietary or lifestyle changes will I need to make during orthodontic treatment?
How often will I have to come to the clinic for wire tightening?
Is it possible that my teeth will straighten themselves without any treatment as I grow?

Treatment options

The best option for long-term correction of malocclusion is through orthodontic treatment or dental braces. In conjunction with braces, if the patient has a severely retrognathic or prognathic jaw, they may also need jaw augmentation surgery. The cost of dental braces treatment for you depends on the following factors:

  • your orthodontist’s fees
  • how long your orthodontic treatment will last
  • what kind of braces you are getting
  • whether you need additional surgery
  • type of retainer you are getting
  • whether you need a tooth extraction
  • your oral hygiene before and during the treatment, etc.

Consult the best orthodontists near you to get a better estimate of the cost and duration of your treatment.

Insurance coverage

Insurance coverage

Since orthodontic treatments like dental braces are largely aesthetic in nature and are availed by patients for better aesthetic appearance, they are classified as elective treatments. Some insurance might cover you if you’ve had an accident and are getting orthodontic treatment to mitigate the damage to your teeth. Some health insurance plans also cover dental braces for children under the age of 18. However, you need to discuss this thoroughly with your insurance provider before beginning your treatment.

Insurance coverage


Will my teeth be trimmed during orthodontic treatment?

No, teeth are generally not trimmed during orthodontic treatment, as braces are placed on top of the dental surface. Instead of trimming, dental spacers are used to create space between the teeth and in severe cases of overcrowding, tooth extraction may also be performed.

When is teeth extraction required during orthodontic treatment?

Orthodontic extraction, i.e., dental extraction for orthodontic treatments, is performed if the patient has overcrowding and the dentist needs extra space to properly align the teeth.

Should I get orthodontic treatment for my child’s milk teeth?

You should start getting orthodontic consultations for your children as soon as they turn 6 months old and get tooth spacers or oral habit-breaking appliances, as necessary, but you do not need to get orthodontic treatment for your child’s milk teeth.

Can braces change my face shape?

Yes, often our facial shape can be asymmetrical due to misaligned teeth and dental braces can increase facial symmetry by correcting dental malocclusion.

Do I need to brush more often if I have braces?

Yes, if you get braces, you need to brush your teeth after every meal or snack. Additionally, you should also keep a mouthwash and properly rinse your mouth every time you eat or drink something.

How can I fix the teeth gap without braces?

There are several other treatments like dental capping, veneers, composite bonding, etc., that can help close small gaps between teeth, but for considerable spaces, braces are the best treatment.

How long do I need to wear retainers after getting my braces removed?

On average, patients are advised to wear their retainers for at least 12-14 months after the treatment, out of which they have to wear retainers full time for the first 4-6 months.

Facts and statistics regarding malocclusion and braces treatment

  • According to WHO, after caries and gum disease, malocclusion is the most common dental problem all over the world and is prevalent in about 39-93% of children and adolescents.
  • In India, about 35.4% of children between the ages of 8-15 have a malocclusion.
  • Class I  malocclusion is the most common type of malocclusion and is present in almost 95.5% of children.
  • According to a research study, overcrowding (11.5%) is the most common type of malocclusion, followed by excessive overjet (9.4%), deep bite (6.8%), spacing (6.5%), crossbite (4.5%), and open bite (3.2%). 
  • A variation in the prevalence of malocclusion has been reported in different parts of the country, going from as low as 19.6% in Madras to 90% in Delhi.
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