What is a Malocclusion?


If you’re considering getting your wonky teeth fixed, you’re probably wondering, ‘what is a malocclusion?’. Whether you’ve spoken to a dental professional already or are simply looking into teeth straightening, you’ve likely heard or come across the clinical term and want to know what it means. After all, not everyone happens to be best mates with an orthodontist.

So, What is a Malocclusion?

If your teeth don’t align properly or you have a poor bite, you have what’s known as a dental malocclusion. Your misalignment issue could be due to:

If one of these applies to you, don’t panic. Most people don’t have a perfect bite. But ideally, your top front teeth should sit slightly beyond your lower front teeth, and your molars should slot together at the back. If this isn’t the case, your malocclusion might be causing you some uncomfortable problems.

Depending on the severity of your misalignment, you could experience:

  • Oral health problems
  • Extreme tooth wear
  • Decay
  • Gum decline
  • Cheek or tongue biting
  • Headaches
  • Self-esteem issues
malocclusion headache

What Causes a Malocclusion?

Whatever type of malocclusion you have, its most likely cause is genetics. So you’ve got your family to thank for your inherited misaligned teeth or poor bite. Cheers, dad!

However, it’s also possible your jaw has been altered due to a medical condition or by habits, too. Some of these include:

  • Frequent and prolonged dummy use beyond age three
  • Extended bottle feeding as an infant
  • Cleft lip
  • Thumb sucking during early years
  • Facial injuries
  • Mouth or jaw tumours
  • Poor dental work
  • Impacted teeth
  • Mouth breathing

How Do You Know if You Have Misaligned Teeth?

As there are many types of malocclusions, your particular misalignment issue can present itself in many ways. Having buck teeth, crooked teeth, or lower front teeth that extend beyond your upper teeth are all common signs of a dental malocclusion. And reasons why you may want to straighten your smile.

Even if your alignment issue hasn’t yet caused any dental health problems, you might want to correct your bite to give your confidence a much-needed boost.

Your malocclusion will fall into one of the following three categories:

Class 1

If you have a class one malocclusion, your misalignment is considered fairly mild. If you fall into this category, teeth spacing or overcrowding will be causing problems, not your jaw.

Class 2

A class two malocclusion means your upper teeth are positioned further forwards than they should ideally be. And you may have a horizontal or vertical protrusion, typically referred to as an overjet or overbite. A class two malocclusion is commonly caused by a retrusive lower jaw.

Class 3

If you have an underbite, where your lower teeth extend beyond your upper teeth, you have what’s known as a class three malocclusion. Typically, a retrusive top jaw or protrusive bottom jaw will be the cause of your misalignment.

Types of Malocclusions

Your imperfect bite could be mild or extremely severe. Some of the types of malocclusions include:

malocclusion overbite

How is a Bad Bite Treated?

Depending on the severity of your misaligned teeth, an orthodontist may recommend treatment to correct your bite and straighten your smile.


Used to successfully straighten smiles since the late 1800s, braces are non-invasive, relatively comfortable and will adjust your teeth and jaw over time. Whether metal, ceramic, or lingual braces, your braces will be permanently fixed to your teeth during your treatment.

Depending on your malocclusion, you’ll need to wear your fixed brace for 6 to 24 months while it gradually moves your teeth.


If your malocclusion is exceptionally severe, you may need to have surgery to correct your jaw. Jaw surgery will realign your jaws and teeth, making your mouth far more comfortable and giving you a brilliant new smile.


As the name suggests, retainers are used to help retain your new alignment once it’s been achieved by braces or aligners. Retainers are commonly worn while sleeping, so they offer a convenient way to keep your new killer smile.

Clear Aligners

Like braces, but without a mouth full of metal, clear aligners treat many types of malocclusions by putting gentle pressure on your teeth and jaw. From overbites and underbites to crossbites and open bites, clear aligners are an extremely popular way to perfect alignment. And as they’re virtually invisible and removable, it’s not difficult to understand why.

You’ll need to wear your plastic aligners for an average of 22 hours every day during your treatment. But you can take your aligners out to enjoy your food and thoroughly clean your teeth. Meaning a more comfortable treatment and less risk of developing any troublesome tooth decay.

clear aligners

How Long Will Orthodontic Treatment Take?

The length of time your treatment will take will depend on the severity of your malocclusion and the type of corrective treatment you choose.

Orthognathic surgery is, of course, very invasive and will take a good few weeks to recover from. But you’ll only be looking at this option if your teeth and jaw cause significant problems and your orthodontist feels that wearing a brace would be ineffective.

If your treatment involves a metal, ceramic or lingual brace, you may need to wear a brace for two to three years, depending on the classification of your misalignment issue.

Corrective treatment with clear aligners typically takes between six and fifteen months, depending on the type and severity of your malocclusion. Plastic aligners also come with the massive upside of not needing any in-surgery visits. Everything is taken care of remotely and delivered directly to your door. So, not only is clear aligner treatment considerably more convenient, but it’s significantly kinder to your bank balance too.

Straighten Your Teeth at Home with SmartSmileCo

Ready to start your teeth straightening journey? Unsure if you’ll be suitable for clear aligners? No problem. Just follow the steps below:

Step 1

Start your free online assessment with SmartSmileCo today, and we’ll let you know if a clear aligner will correct your smile.

Step 2

Order your impression kit, follow the instructions, and return your impressions to us. We’ll then create a proper 3D plan of your pearly whites and decide what’s needed to perfect your smile.

Step 3

You can expect to receive your clear aligners and orthodontist-endorsed treatment plan just ten days after your plan is approved. And you’re ready to get rid of your malocclusion.

Is your malocclusion making your life a misery? Want to correct your smile at home with comfortable, clear aligners? Make your bad bite a thing of the past and start your smile transformation journey today.

smartsmileco clear aligners