Orthodontic treatment is used to correct a "bad bite." This condition, known as a malocclusion, involves teeth that are crowded or crooked. In some cases, the upper and lower jaws may not meet properly and although the teeth may appear straight, the individual may have an uneven bite.
Protruding, crowded or irregularly spaced teeth and jaw problems may be inherited. Thumb-sucking, losing teeth prematurely and accidents also can lead to these conditions.
Correcting the problem can create a nice-looking smile, but more important, orthodontic treatment results in a healthier mouth. That's because crooked and crowded teeth make cleaning the mouth difficult, which can lead to tooth decay, gum disease and possibly tooth loss. An improper bite can interfere with chewing and speaking, can cause abnormal wear to tooth enamel, and can lead to problems with the jaws.
Copyright 1995-2008 American Dental Association.