An abnormal relationship between the upper and lower sets of teeth when they are closed, affecting the bite (see occlusion) or appearance. Malocclusion usually develops during childhood. It is inherited, or is caused by thumb-sucking or a mismatch between the teeth and jaws – for example, the combination of large teeth and a small mouth (see overcrowding, dental). Orthodontic appliances (braces) may be used to move teeth into the proper position, and if there is dental overcrowding, some teeth may be extracted. Orthognathic surgery is used to treat severe recession or protrusion of the lower jaw. Treatment is best carried out in childhood or adolescence.


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