If the malocclusion is thought to be caused by the child sucking on fingers or a pacifier and the child is stopped early enough, the malocclusion may resolve spontaneously without treatment.
Depending on the cause and severity of the malocclusion and the appliance used in treatment, a patient may expect correction of the condition to take two or more years.
Orthodontic treatment is sometimes necessary to correct malocclusion, a condition that shifts the position of the teeth and makes closing the mouth impossible.
It is more likely to occur if the parents have malocclusion, the child sucks his or her thumb or a pacifier, or if a tooth is lost prematurely.
In severe cases of malocclusion, surgery may be necessary and the patient is referred to another specialist, an oral or maxillofacial surgeon.
To confirm the presence and extent of malocclusion, the dentist makes plaster or plastic models of the patient's teeth from impressions.
If overcrowding is creating malocclusion, one or more teeth may be extracted (surgically removed), giving the others room to move.
Severe malocclusion may require orthodontic intervention to improve appearance or to prevent problems with eating and speaking.
The most common cause of malocclusion is a disproportion in size between the jaw and teeth or between the upper and lower jaws.
When malocclusion is suspected, photographs and x rays of the face and mouth may be taken for further study.