Bite issues, also known as malocclusions, occur when a person’s upper or lower jaws do not close in the right configuration or cannot close at all. Malocclusions can be caused by many factors, including habitual and genetic, but one of the most common is a jaw that is either too big or small for the person’s other oral structures.
Since an incorrect bite can lead to severe health issues, orthodontists have developed treatment methods for guiding jaw growth in a healthier direction using certain appliances. Importantly, jaw growth cannot be physically prevented after a certain age and is an important part of our oral development. Consult a professional about your child’s projected jaw growth to learn whether an appliance that controls it will improve their oral health in the future.
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How Jaw Size Leads to Problems
A bite problem is usually caused by overcrowded teeth resulting from early childhood habits, genetics, trauma, or a combination of factors, including jaw size. When teeth crowd together, they prevent your jaw from closing in a healthy position, leading to what dentists classify as either an overbite, underbite, or crossbite. Treatment for these conditions often involves tooth extraction, braces, or a combination of therapies.
Regardless of how a patient’s teeth became crooked or their bite misaligned, treatment is necessary to prevent future health issues. Crooked teeth are more prone to decay and disease while the uneven distribution of forces that results from an unhealthy bite can lead to jaw pain, eating and speaking difficulties, sleep apnea, headaches, and disorders of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ).
In addition to these tangible health issues, unhealthy jaw development can lead to many unwanted physical manifestations, including sunken cheeks, flat face, sloped forehead, deviated septum, narrow face, and recessed chin.
How Facial Orthodontics Can Help
Conventional dental wisdom would suggest that removing teeth and applying braces is the most effective treatment for all patients with malocclusions. However, “facial orthodontics” is becoming a popular treatment option for patients whose facial structure, including jaw size and position, is to blame for their health issues. For these patients, facial orthodontic treatments can lead to better cosmetic results and more promising oral health outcomes by addressing the patient’s jaw alignment, size, and facial position in addition to correcting the teeth directly.
The advantage of facial orthodontics over conventional methods is that by addressing the root issue of most malocclusions, patients may need braces for less time or no time at all. Their appearance, speech function, and overall oral health can be improved using special appliances that reposition the jaw or alter its development if the patient is young enough.
How Jaw Growth Can Be Changed
If your provider examines your “oral posture” and determines that jaw growth needs to be prevented or its position needs to be changed, they will explore ways that your facial structures can be changed for the better. Commonly, a Herbst appliance may be used to encourage the jaw to grow in a more forward position or a palatal expander may be used to give the upper teeth more room to come in straight.
A healthier bite is not the only result of facial orthodontic treatments. Patients often find that their faces have changed shape in subtle ways, such as by gaining jawline definition, fuller lips, or flatter cheekbones. With the nasal bones in a more open position, many patients can also breathe better, improving or curing their sleep apnea.
What Age Does Jaw Growth Stop?
Jaw growth typically stops in late adolescence, around the ages of 18 to 20 in most individuals. However, there can be some variations, and jaw growth can continue into the early twenties for some people. It’s essential to consult with a dentist or orthodontist for a more precise assessment of jaw development in individual cases.
How Do I Prevent Jaw Growth?
It’s unlikely that your orthodontist will recommend preventing jaw growth. Instead, they will guide it toward a healthier position so that you or your child have fewer oral health problems in the future. While not all issues can be prevented, facially focused orthodontics is making strides toward predicting and preventing the most common problems by addressing the root of the problem first.
Choose Reese Orthodontics
If you’re an adult who is considering braces, you need professional advice on your treatment and payment options. For orthodontic treatments in Charleston, SC, Reese Orthodontics offers the latest technology and treatment plans. Our advanced and comfortable orthodontic treatments can be customized to suit your needs. A consultation with Reese Orthodontics includes scans, a comprehensive exam, and a conversation with the orthodontist to discover which treatment options are right for you.
Schedule an appointment with us today to stay ahead of your oral health and receive the best possible treatment in your area.