Protruding Jaw Causes
Jaw size mismatches are common conditions with multiple causes, which range from genetics to trauma to developmental issues. Most of these issues can be well addressed with the right orthodontic treatment. Dr. Burke and Dr. Redford are experienced in correctly diagnosing jaw misalignment, and they have specialized misaligned jaw treatment methods to produce the best bite correction results.
The most common jaw size mismatch types are overbites and underbites. These two conditions are often recognized by patients themselves. The purpose of this article is to explain the most common causes and available treatment methods.
What is an Overbite?
An overbite is a misalignment of the jaws resulting in the lower jaw setting behind the upper jaw. Excess front-to-back or horizontal “overbite” between the front teeth often results. It is commonly known as “buck teeth,” but the medical term for an overbite is Class II malocclusion. Overbites can range from mild to severe and are most easily corrected during the adolescent growth spurt. A consultation is recommended to discuss whether corrective treatment is advised as well as ideal timing for best results.
What Causes an Overbite?
Most of the time, overbites are hereditary. These jaw patterns can be passed down through generations. However, there are several other overbite causes:
- Thumb-sucking – This habit causes oral abnormalities. For infants and young children, it can push front teeth into an excessive overbite relationship. Finger habits should be extinguished by the time the first permanent teeth erupt at the latest.
- Pacifiers – Sucking on a pacifier is referred to as non-nutritive sucking behavior (NNSB), which is in the same category as thumb sucking and has similar consequences. However, a 2016 research article published in the Journal of the American Dental Association emphasized the risk of developing bad tooth bite relationships from pacifiers to be greater than from thumb-sucking.
- Tongue-thrusting – Yet another childhood behavior, it manifests when the tongue is pressed too far forward in the mouth. This creates an imbalance between tongue and lip pressure against front teeth and normally generates open bites. It is also a risk factor for overbites.
- Extra, impacted or missing teeth – Teeth crowding or missing teeth can cause misalignments. Special attention should be given to impacted teeth (teeth which have not erupted through the gums to become visible), since they can only be seen on x-rays.
What are the Health Risks of an Overbite?
The health risks of an overbite range from mild to severe, including:
- Speech problems—Speech problems are often related to jaw misalignments.
- Chewing deficiencies—Biting into food properly with the front teeth can be difficult when a large overbite is present.
- Habit formation—The lower lip will often occupy the space between upper and lower front teeth, with a subsequent “lower lip trap” habit forming.
- Risk of front tooth trauma (damage)—Protruding upper front teeth increases the likelihood of injury, especially in active individuals. There is a one in three chance an untreated child will experience some level of trauma to the upper front teeth.
- Physical alterations—Overbites alter a person’s physical appearance. Imbalanced facial proportions result with lower lips and the chin appearing set back.
If you or your child are experiencing any of these overbite signs or symptoms, we recommend a consultation to discuss misaligned jaw treatment.
There are several misaligned jaw treatment options available for an overbite. These include:
- Appliance therapy – An overbite corrector during the adolescent growth spurt is the most effective method and time for correcting an overbite. A Herbst appliance is one such overbite correcting appliance. These appliances are usually used in conjunction with braces or Invisalign during a single phase of treatment.
- Braces – traditional (metal) or ceramic braces are the most common type of orthodontic device and what most lay people are familiar with. Elastics can be used with braces in adolescents or adults to shift teeth into the appropriate bite relationship.
- Invisalign—Elastics can also be used in conjunction with Invisalign to improve the bite.
- Jaw surgery—Some overbite cases are too severe to be treated with appliances, braces, or Invisalign alone. Sometimes corrective jaw surgery is needed. Redford and Dr. Burke will work directly with your surgeon if surgery is required.
What is an Underbite?
An underbite is a jaw size mismatch where the lower jaw sets ahead of the upper jaw, known in the orthodontic world as a “Class III malocclusion” or prognathism. It is commonly known as a protruding jaw. Some cases are subtle while other, more severe underbite cases produce a “bulldog-like appearance.”
What are Protruding Jaw Causes?
Protruding jaw causes, like overbites, are mostly genetic in nature. Missing or narrow upper teeth, extra lower teeth, and teeth erupting out of position can also cause an underbite front tooth bite relationship.
What are the Health Risks of an Underbite?
The health risks of an underbite are similar to risks associated with overbites, notably:
- Biting and chewing difficulties
- Speech problems
- Uneven wear or chipping of tooth surfaces
- Teeth and gum damage
- Physical alterations
Misaligned bite treatment for underbites is completely different than for overbites! The ideal timing for treatment is also different. Early detection and intervention are key. Early treatment could make all the difference in avoiding the need for jaw correction surgery later in life. If there is a family history of underbites, or you suspect your child is developing an underbite, evaluation with an orthodontist at age 7 is strongly advised. Correction for underbites includes:
- Growth modification – the best time for underbite correction is between ages seven and nine, before the adolescent growth spurt. Appliances for underbite correction are non-invasive and very effective in children at this age. Growth modification to influence the growth pattern of jaws is different and more effective than moving just the teeth, as is the case with braces and Invisalign.
- Braces – Metal or ceramic braces with elastics can shift teeth into appropriate bite relationships in mild to moderate cases.
- Invisalign – Like with braces, elastics that attach to aligners can be used to improve the bite. It should be noted that only teeth can be moved with Invisalign or braces, not jaws.
- Jaw Surgery – this is used only in extreme cases where more conservative measures will not be successful.
For an appointment to discuss misaligned jaw treatment or any other orthodontic treatment, contact the office of Burke & Redford Orthodontists at (951) 699-8011 or fill out the contact form on our website for a free consultation with Dr. Redford or Dr. Burke today.