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Here are some common conditions found in orthodontic patients.
Each topic contains information about the condition.
Crowding
Crossbite
Gummy Smile
Excessive overbite
Spacing
Open Bite
Jaw Asymmetry
Excessive Overjet

Crowding
If your teeth are crooked, turned, or overlapped, you are not alone.  Virtually 90% of the population has an orthodontic condition known as crowding.  Crowding can be caused by genetics (e.g., a relatively small jaw or relatively large teeth), improper eruption of teeth, early loss of teeth, delayed loss of teeth, or habits (e.g., nail biting and thumb sucking).

Crossbite
A crossbite is a condition that exists when an improper horizontal overlap of the teeth is present.  A crossbite occurs most often in the back teeth, but can also be present with the front teeth or both front & back teeth at the same time.  A crossbite can be caused either:

  1. dentally, because of the improper position of teeth or
  2. skeletally, because of an improper relationship between the upper jaw with the lower jaw. 

The skeletal crossbite can be due to an abnormally small upper jaw or an abnormally large lower jaw and may be linked to a genetic growth pattern or syndrome.

Gummy Smile
A gummy smile or excessive display of the gums, is a condition where too much pink gum tissue can be seen when a person speaks or smiles. Approximately 7% of men and 14% of women have excessive gingival display in full smile. A gummy smile is usually associated with a vertically-enlarged upper jaw, a short upper lip, short upper front teeth, or a forward position of the front teeth.

Excessive Overbite
An excessive overbite refers to a condition in which the upper front teeth vertically overlap the lower front teeth by an abnormally large amount.  In this condition, the lower front teeth can be seen only partially or not at all when the patient’s back teeth are biting together. It is most often caused by improper position of the teeth due to over-eruption of the upper or lower front teeth. However, in less frequent instances, it can be caused by a large and vertically-excessive upper jaw bone or improper position or development of the lower jaw. A persistent, excessive overbite over time can lead to damage of the palatal gum tissue behind the upper front teeth or the gum tissue covering the roots of the lower front teeth. Trauma to the front teeth themselves is also possible.

Spacing
Spacing means exactly what it sounds like: there is too much space between your teeth. This condition is the exact opposite of crowding, and is known clinically as a ‘diastema’. Spacing occurs in approximately 5% to 10% of the population. Like crowding, spacing may be caused by genetic factors (i.e., a large jaw bone with small teeth), improper eruption of teeth, or unusual pulling-forces exerted by gum tissues and muscles. Spacing may affect all of your teeth or just a few of them. In addition, chronic thumb sucking can also create or widen spaces between the teeth.

Open Bite
An open bite is an oral condition that occurs when certain teeth, usually your front teeth, do not make contact with each other. In some individuals, it may also occur with the back teeth. An open bite gives the illusion that a person’s mouth is never really closed, because there is always vertical space between the teeth. Since open bite is not a common problem, those who seek treatment do so primarily for esthetic reasons. For patients that have moderate to extreme open bite, treatment is important since the condition can affect one’s chewing ability, along with other normal functions of the jaws. A persistent open bite can also lead to improper tongue position and swallowing habits over time, which can increase the difficulty in correcting the open bite.

Jaw Asymmetry
A jaw asymmetry refers to one of two skeletal conditions in regards to the jaw bones. The first condition refers to an uneven relationship between the upper jaw and the lower jaw, in which one jaw bone is too large or too small in relation to the other jaw bone. The second condition refers to one jaw bone, usually the lower jaw, in which one side of the jaw bone is too large or too small in relation to the other side. These jaw asymmetries can lead to an excessive overjet or under bite. It can also lead to a crossbite of the back or front teeth or an abnormal, uneven facial appearance. A jaw asymmetry is most often caused by an improper growth pattern, trauma, or a genetic syndrome.

Excessive Overjet
Overjet is an orthodontic term that most people often confuse with ‘overbite’. Overjet refers to the horizontal overlap of the upper front teeth with the lower front teeth. In an excessive overjet, an abnormally large amount of horizontal overlap exists. For example, picture the upper front teeth protruding far out in front of the lower front teeth. This condition can arise from numerous causes: improper tipping-out of the upper front teeth towards the lips, improper tipping-in of the lower front teeth towards the tongue, finger-sucking habits, an abnormally large upper jaw, an abnormally small lower jaw, or improper lower jaw position. Excessive overjet can also be linked to several genetic disorders or syndromes. If allowed to persist, an excessive overjet can leave the upper front teeth in a position more vulnerable to trauma. Oftentimes, the bite does not fit together properly when excessive overjet exists, which may prevent a patient from chewing properly.

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