What Causes Malocclusion?

Malocclusion, or the misalignment of the teeth as the jaw closes, is a common dental problem. Having malocclusion can be as simple as having crooked teeth or, as you may have heard Dr. Lesko say, a “bad bite.” Typically, malocclusion isn’t serious and can be corrected by orthodontics or by orthognathic surgery. But in some cases, it can cause pain and damage to the teeth due to uneven wear or teeth that bump into each other while speaking or chewing. However, despite malocclusion’s common treatment options, there are many different reasons people have malocclusion. Here are just a few.

Thumb Sucking or Pacifiers

Sometimes if a child sucks his or her thumb or uses a device such as a pacifier for too long after developing teeth, the teeth can grow outward and become “bucked” or crooked. This is a type of malocclusion that can be corrected by braces. That being said, if you have a young child who exhibits these behaviors, the sooner you stop them, the better their teeth will be. We recommend ditching pacifiers before or as soon as the first tooth comes in, and we recommend children not suck their thumbs at all.

Dental Work

In some cases, the dental work we have done to correct the teeth can cause malocclusion accidentally. If you have a tooth pulled, a crown placed, or even sometimes poorly installed or damaged orthodontics, you can develop malocclusion. This is why it’s very important to be seen by a board-certified dentist or orthodontist, and to make sure you are attending all your regularly scheduled appointments.


Sometimes when it comes to our teeth, we are simply dealt a more challenging hand, thanks to genetics. If your dad had gapped teeth, you may also have gapped teeth. If your mom had a malocclusion such as a crossbite, you could develop the same malocclusion. The good news is this type of malocclusion typically presents itself early, so you can work with your child’s dentist and orthodontist to develop a treatment plan that possibly includes orthodontics to help correct the malocclusion as a child, before it becomes more difficult to move.

Ready to learn more about malocclusion? Call Dr. Lesko’s office today at 970-221-5115.

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2001 S Shields St Bldg L
Fort Collins, Colorado