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In orthodontics, a malocclusion is a misalignment or incorrect relation between the teeth of the upper and lower dental arches when they approach each other as the jaws close. The English-language term dates from 1864;Edward Angle (1855-1930), the "father of modern orthodontics", popularised it. The word "malocclusion" derives from occlusion, and refers to the manner in which opposing teeth meet (mal- + occlusion = "incorrect closure").


The malocclusion classification is based on the relationship of the mesiobuccal cusp of the maxillary first molar and the buccal groove of the mandibular first molar. If this molar relationship exists, then the teeth can align into normal occlusion. According to Angle, malocclusion is any deviation of the occlusion from the ideal. However, assessment for malocclusion should also take into account aesthetics and the impact on functionality. If these aspects are acceptable to the patient despite meeting the formal definition of malocclusion, then treatment may not be necessary. It is estimated that nearly 30% of the population have malocclusions that are categorised as severe and definitely benefit from orthodontic treatment.

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