A Class II malocclusion is a condition in which the upper teeth protrude past the lower teeth. This is commonly referred to as an overbite. The causes are varied, so the treatment will depend upon the cause as well as the severity of the malocclusion. Dentists usually prefer to begin treatment at the earliest age possible.
Early thumb sucking is believed by many dental professionals to be one reason a person is at risk for developing a Class II malocclusion. For this reason, many healthcare providers have begun to discourage the practice in children. The same is true of pacifier use, and most doctors and dentists prefer that children not use a pacifier later than age 3.
Sometimes, the teeth themselves can be the cause of the malocclusion. Abnormally shaped teeth, extra teeth, impacted teeth, or even missing teeth could lead to the problem.
A Class II malocclusion could be an issue for some people because of dental work. If crowns or braces do not fit properly, for example, they could push the teeth out of alignment. This makes regular dental visits extremely important.
A common cause is a misalignment of the jaw, which can be caused by genetic, or hereditary, factors. It also can occur as a result of improper healing after a fracture. Rarely, the misalignment is because of the development of a tumor in the mouth or jaw.
A Class II malocclusion can present in several ways. Aside from an abnormal tooth alignment, sometimes the face itself will have a somewhat distorted appearance. The process of eating sometimes can be difficult or even painful because of chewing or biting problems. Speech and breathing also can be affected in rare instances.
A routine trip to the dentist is all that it takes in order to obtain a diagnosis. In the majority of cases, the dentist will be able to treat the condition in his or her office. In more severe cases, a referral to an orthodontist might be suggested.
Treatment is extremely individualized. For some, having one or more teeth removed will correct the problem, while others will benefit from the use of a retainer to correct the bite. Braces are often used for a more significant malocclusion. In the most severe cases, surgery might have to be performed.