Occlusion refers to the way a person's teeth align inside their mouth. The teeth should fit alongside each other without crowding or twisting. Ideally, the upper teeth should very slightly overlap the lower teeth. Problems with the alignment of the teeth or jaw are called malocclusion, which includes specific issues such as crossbite, overbite or underbite. The condition affects the way the teeth function.
Malocclusion is often an inherited condition, but certain habits can also cause the jaws and teeth to become misaligned, such as prolonged bottle feeding or use of a pacifier or thumb sucking in young children. Certain conditions can also make malocclusion more likely. Injuries affecting the jaw, a cleft lip or palate, and tumors in the mouth or jaw can also lead to malocclusion, as can problems with the tonsils and adenoids.
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