Prevention and Treatment for Protruding Teeth
What are Protruding Teeth?
Teeth that protrude outward, which are commonly referred to as “buck teeth,” are a very prevalent type of malocclusion seen by orthodontists. Malocclusion is a word that refers to incorrect or improper bites.
This type of malocclusion is often labeled with other terms like “overbite” or “overjet”. In this situation, the upper front teeth jut out over the lower set of teeth. In a normal bite, the top teeth should fit snugly over the bottom teeth.
While some cases of protruding teeth may be hard to see without the person smiling, others are blatantly obvious as the front teeth hang over the bottom lip.
One study found that protruding teeth is seen in about 15% of children between the ages of 12 and 15. This study indicates that buck teeth are seen quite frequently in the realm of orthodontic intervention for children.
How Do Children Get Protruding Teeth?
In most cases, an overbite can be attributed to genetic factors. An upper and lower jaw mismatch (lower jaw setting behind the upper jaw) can be genetically passed down, which subsequently causes overextended upper front teeth.
Small children often develop maladaptive habits such as sucking on their thumb or a pacifier. During this developmental stage, their teeth can easily be modified and moved. Therefore, when a child forms a habit like this, it can adversely affect the proper development and normal placement of their adult teeth.
- Crowding and spacing
When too many teeth are crowded together or substantial spacing occurs, this can produce teeth which protrude. Extra or missing teeth may also cause a similar disarrangement of the teeth.
- Tongue thrust
Some children habitually force their tongue forward against their front teeth. Over time, this can push the teeth forward or work to keep them in a forward position, causing them to stick out.
Protruding Teeth and Oral Damage
Although some people prefer to avoid orthodontic treatment and simply live with over-protruding teeth, studies show this can prove to be injurious in the long run. The more teeth protrude outward, the more prone they are to damage.
Children that have teeth overhanging outwards 3 millimeters or more are subject to oral injuries 3 times more than children without protruding teeth. Since the lip is unable to cover and protect the jutted out teeth, they are exposed to more injuries. Another study found that children with protruding upper front teeth have a one in three chance of experiencing trauma to these teeth.
If a child is active or often plays sports, this can increase the chance their protruding teeth will be damaged considerably.
The University of Adelaide in Australia found a direct correlation between the degree of tooth protrusion and the occurrence of damage to the teeth. If the damages are substantial enough, it can be a pricey, life-long issue.
Dealing with Damaged Teeth
Broken or damaged adult teeth may require corrective interventions throughout life, such as root canals, veneers, crowns, bridges, or other extensive treatment.
Dr. Redford and Dr. Burke are well-versed in treating malocclusions, like protruding teeth, in children and young adults. Please contact our offices in Temecula and Lake Elsinore for more information at (951) 699-8011.
Other Problems Associated with Overbites
Besides damage to the teeth, there are other common issues associated with protruding teeth.
- Chewing and speaking impediments
In children with over-protruded teeth, difficulty is often experienced when trying to chew food properly. In addition, speaking can be impeded due to the teeth not being set properly.
- Social concerns
Upper front teeth that protrude excessively often result in the lower lip becoming “trapped” behind the upper front teeth and in front of the lower front teeth. This can contribute to the patient feeling insecure about their appearance.
Fortunately, there is a solution for overbites and malocclusions. Burke & Redford Orthodontists are committed to providing solutions to their patients.
Treatment Options for Protruding Teeth
If a child presents with protruding teeth, there are different treatment methods employed by orthodontists to correct it. If the protrusion is minimal and the patient is young, the orthodontist may opt to use a removable type retainer to tip the upper front teeth back. In any case, the child’s specific case should always be seen by qualified orthodontists to determine the best course of action.
Below are the most commonly used orthodontic interventions in cases of protruding teeth.
Traditional braces work wonders for malocclusions of any type. Through the application of gentle pressure over time, teeth are moved into place and bad bites can be corrected. There are several types of braces available. Self-ligating braces are the preferred choice in our practice.
For cases where a large jaw size mismatch is present, jaw surgery may be desired by the patient to finish with ideal tooth AND jaw relationships. Dr. Redford and Dr. Burke will work directly with your surgeon to prepare for this procedure, if this option is preferred.
There are several different devices (one such being the “Herbst” appliance) that are used for correcting overbites. These appliances make it appear as if the lower jaw grew significantly during treatment, but we are really bringing (pre-programmed) growth forward in time more than we are creating new lower jaw growth. In short, these appliances can be very effective at correcting large overbites without jaw surgery.
Dr. Burke and Dr. Redford are board-certified orthodontists that specialize in correcting protruding teeth. Both orthodontists utilize their knowledge and experience to give patients the most comfortable and enjoyable experience possible when it comes to orthodontic treatment.
Can Protruding Teeth Be Prevented?
As mentioned before, genetics usually plays a large role in buck teeth being present in a child. However, if maladaptive habits such as thumb-sucking or using a pacifier are causing the overbite, this condition can be prevented.
While these habits are perfectly normal for babies, they can be quite harmful for the child’s developing mouth if they carry on for too long. If a finger habit hasn’t been broken by the time a child’s adult teeth start coming in, parents should work with the child to do so.
What if My Child Has Protruding Teeth?
If a child is seen developing protruding teeth, the earlier the treatment is sought, the better. As most professionals in orthodontics suggest, an initial orthodontic evaluation is advised for children that are around 7 years old.
At this age, the orthodontist will be able to determine if an overbite is present. They will also evaluate whether the overbite is a result of jaw or tooth positions. Age appropriate solutions will be discussed, and orthodontic intervention may be suggested, depending upon the degree of the protrusion. You can read more information about appliances and braces for youth and oral orthodontic options for teens.
If you would like your child to be evaluated by one of our qualified doctors for protruding teeth, we offer consultations free of charge to prospective patients. Please contact us at (951) 699-8011 to schedule a consultation at one of our offices in Temecula or Lake Elsinore.