Common Orthodontic Issues

A range of common orthodontic abnormalities have been identified as triggers for referral by dentists and dental therapists. If any of these look familiar or you have any questions about your or your child’s bite or teeth, you are welcome to contact your local member of the NZAO directly.

Anterior crossbite

Anterior crossbite

The upper teeth should fit outside the lower teeth like a lid on a box. If the anterior crossbite is not addressed receding gums can develop on the lower teeth. The bigger, stronger top teeth can push the lower teeth forward.

Posterior Crossbite / Anterior Crossbite

 posterior crossbite

If the upper jaw is too narrow, the lower jaw can swing to one side to allow the teeth to mesh. It is possible to get a crossbite without the jaw swining.

Crowding of teeth


Crowding is a common orthodontic problem. Crowded teeth can be unattractive and difficult to clean and can create problems with chewing and biting.



A deepbite can result in damage to the teeth through excessive wear and tear. It can be quite severe to the inside gum.



An overjet and an overbite are often confused, but are actually two quite different things. An overjet relates to how far forward the teeth are, while a deep overbite relates to the overlapping of top and bottom teeth.

An overbite increases wear and tear of the front teeth and can cause damage to gum tissue. It is possible to have both and overjet and an overbite.

An overjet can be particularly unsightly as the lips may not meet. There is an increased risk of injury to the front teeth with an overjet, particularly if the patient plays contact sport.


Anterior openbite

An open bite exists when some teeth don't meet. It is very common in children who suck their thumbs or fingers.  

An openbite can cause eating problems, speech problems, and excessive wear of those teeth which do meet. An open bite can also be unattractive.

You can read more about finger and thumb sucking here.

Impacted upper canines

Impacted upper canines

Impacted teeth increase the chance of delayed eruption. Delayed eruption occurs when teeth don't come through at the normal time.

Submergence / Upper canines

submerged tooth

Ectopic teeth are those teeth that erupt in the wrong place. This can lead to impacted canines, molars, premolars, ectopic molars

Thumb and Finger-sucking Habits

Thumb and finger sucking habitsParents are sometimes anxious about their child's digit sucking habit and will seek advice from their health professional. Digit sucking is a natural reflex for a baby that may begin whilst in-utero, and parents should be assured that a sucking habit is considered to be a normal feature of a young child's development.

It is however well documented that if the habit continues past the age of 5 to 6 years into the mixed and permanent dentition, there is the potential for undesirable tooth movement and malocclusions may develop. read more

Missing teeth

Missing teeth is a common orthodontic issue, particularly where children have experience poor oral hygiene and adult teeth have had to be extracted. Missing teeth creates problems with teeth placement and settlement.


You don't need a referral from a dentist or dental nurse if you are concerned.

Your local orthodontist is happy to provide an assessment and recommend treatment options.

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