Orthodontics is a form of dentistry that specializes in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. Technically speaking, these problems are classified as "malocclusion," meaning "bad bite." Dr. Schroeder is skilled in the design, application and control of corrective appliances, such as braces, to bring teeth, lips and jaws into proper alignment and to achieve facial balance.

Most people associate orthodontics with the application of braces to correct crooked teeth in children. Dr. Schroeder, however, treats a wide variety of conditions in people of all ages - from overbites to underbites.

Malocclusions are usually inherited or acquired.

Acquired malocclusions can be caused by accidents, sucking of the thumb, finger or pacifiers, tonsils and adenoids that obstruct the airway, and disease or premature loss of primary or permanent teeth.

Inherited malocclusions that determine how well your teeth fit together are largely determined by such attributes as tooth and jaw size. For example, people can inherit large teeth and small dental arches, or the reverse. A "poor bite" is often caused by teeth that have too much or too little room in the jaw. Other common causes of crooked teeth are factors that move the teeth out of place, including oral habits and early tooth loss, which leads to tooth shifting.

Regardless of whether malocclusions are inherited or acquired, many of these problems affect not only alignment of the teeth but also facial development and appearance as well.

Most cases of malocclusions are mild, or cosmetic, in nature; for example, a poor bite does not cause severe impediments to talking or eating. In some people, however, the condition is so severe that they cannot eat or speak properly.

A poor bite does not ordinarily cause tooth decay, periodontal disease, or temporomandibular (TM) disorder. It may, however, make it difficult to properly care for one`s teeth.

Although a majority of the population have some type of malocclusion, not all people require or seek orthodontic treatment. For example, with or without a history of orthodontic treatment, 65% of adults develop crowded, crooked lower front teeth. This is a natural result of change over time and does not necessarily require orthodontic treatment.

Symptoms that trigger orthodontics

If you or your child have any of the following symptoms, have your general or pediatric dentist evaluate whether a poor bite may be responsible:

  • Difficulty chewing due to tooth pain or difficulty aligning teeth;
  • Facial muscle or jaw pain;
  • Permanent teeth coming in (erupting) out of their normal position;
  • Problems with biting the cheek or roof of the mouth; or
  • Speech difficulties.

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