Common Orthodontic Problems

What is Malocclusion?

A malocclusion is a state in which teeth are not aligned or coordinated properly, causing discrepancies in the way teeth fit together.  They can be caused by the differences between the sizes of teeth and the jaws as well as a lack of balance between the upper and lower jaws themselves.

Dental Crowding

Dental crowding is one of the most common orthodontic problems.  It exists when the total size of the teeth is larger than the total size of the jaw-bone that holds the teeth.  Minor crowding can be corrected solely with braces.  Moderate and severe crowding situations may require additional treatment prior to braces, such as palatal expansion.

Dental Spacing

Dental spacing is the opposite of crowding.  Most spacing situations only require braces for correction and elastics are often used to help close the spaces.  Closure of dental spacing can greatly improve the look of the front teeth and prevent "food traps" from developing between the back teeth.


Overbite is another common orthodontic issue.  It exists when there is tooth much vertical overlap of the top front teeth over the bottom front teeth.  A small amount of overbite is good, but too much overbite could lead to accelerated wear of the top and bottom front teeth over time.  In addition, overbites tend to increase with time and are fairly easy to correct at a young age.

Dental Protrusion

Dental protrusion exists when the top front teeth (incisors) are too far forward or flared.  It is common in children who previously had a thumb-sucking habit.  In addition, significant dental protrusion can cause speech and chewing problems and can be unsightly.  People with dental protrusion are also at a greater risk for dental-related trauma.


An underbite exists when the top front teeth are hitting behind the bottom front teeth.  Evidence suggests that underbites are best treated between the ages of 7-10 so that the upper jaw continues to grow properly.  Single tooth underbites are often treated with simple appliances like retainers.  Underbites of all four front teeth may suggest that a jaw discrepancy exits which requires more advanced treatment.


A crossbite exists when the upper teeth in the back are fitting on the inside of the lower teeth.  This is often caused by the upper jaw being too narrow.  Correction of this situation is important at a young age so that the upper jaw continues to grow properly.  Expanders are usually used to correct crossbites of the back teeth and give excellent results.