Types of Malocclusion

Malocclusion is misalignment of your upper and lower teeth when they approach each other as jaws close. Here is a guide to various malocclusions we see commonly and render orthodontic treatment on a regular basis.

Malocclusion is classified into three types based on the molar(back teeth) relationship.


This is the most common type of malocclusion that coexists with crowding or spacing of teeth. However, the bite is normal. It can be treated by braces.

Class 2:

This is seen when anterior teeth are proclined and a large overjet is present. In this type, upper jaw is placed way forward than normal. In another case of class 2, upper front teeth are retroclined and a deep overbite exists.

Class 3:

In this type, lower jaw is proclined and placed forward the upper jaw. Usually lower front teeth are seen more prominent than upper front teeth. In this case, the patient very often has a large mandible (lower jaw) or short maxilla (upper jaw). The cause may be skeletal or dental.

All these malocclusions are treated by braces. In severe cases, Orthognathic surgery may be required in class 2 and 3 malocclusion.



Overcrowding is one of the most common malocclusions and often caused by lack of space in the jaw. This results in crooked and overlapped teeth. Crowding can make you difficult to clean your teeth which may lead to tooth decay, gum diseases and eventually loss of teeth. Crowding can occur due to discrepancy in tooth and jaw size, improper eruption of teeth, early loss of primary teeth causing space loss etc. Crowding can be corrected by gaining some space with extraction of few teeth and utilizing the space to realign the teeth perfectly. Crowding can be treated by orthodontic appliances like braces.


Overjet and overbite are one in which upper teeth extend past your lower teeth horizontally and vertically. Thumb sucking, use of pacifiers, small lower jaw can be the causes. In severe cases, they can cause the lower teeth to bite the lower lip. These are associated commonly with class 2 malocclusion.


Cross bite is a condition in which upper teeth bite behind your lower teeth. There can be single tooth involved or multiple teeth, unilateral or bilateral. This can happen due to crowding in the upper arch or difference in the exfoliation and eruption of primary and permanent teeth. The best time to treat cross bite is during mixed dentition period. Early treatment can prevent severe malocclusion later. Correction of cross bites is done using expanders, springs, elastics etc.



In ideal occlusion, little overlap is seen between your upper and lower teeth. Open bite is a malocclusion in which no overlap or contact exists between their counterparts. It may be a skeletal or dental open bite. Open bite may be genetic in nature or may occur due to a transitional change from primary teeth to permanent teeth. It may also occur due to unhealthy oral habits like thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, long term use of pacifiers etc.

Open bite can be corrected depending on the cause. Habit breaking appliances can be given if the malocclusion is due to bad oral habits. In case of skeletal open bite, headgears and chin cups are used in growing and permanent dentition to control the vertical growth. In severe skeletal abnormality, Orthognathic surgery may be performed. In dental open bite cases, elastics, bite blocks are used to correct the open bite.


Spacing can be mild or severe. Some gaps between your teeth may be small and unnoticeable and some are large making it a cosmetic issue. Spacing may occur due to a discrepancy in the jaw size and tooth size. Spacing can also occur due to underlying gum disease. Braces are the common treatment to close such large spacing.


Gap between your two front teeth is called midline diastema. It can be acquired genetically or can occur due to high frenal attachment. Minor gap can be closed by composite bonding or veneers. If the gap is large, orthodontic intervention is needed. If the spacing is due to frenum, surgical treatment called frenectomy is done followed by orthodontic treatment.