Reasons for Jaw Correction
When the upper and lower teeth do not fit together comfortably or functionally, it is the result of a misaligned jaw. There are several types of misalignments, and Amborn Orthodontics offers a wide range of treatment options to correct each condition. Our goal is to help you and your family achieve a beautiful smile and significantly improve your oral health.
The effects of a misaligned jaw can take a toll on you physically and emotionally. If the condition is severe enough, it can interfere with the way you eat, speak, breathe, and sleep. Some patients even experience discomfort or pain when their jaw is not in motion. The joint that is responsible for the function of your jaw, the temporomandibular joint, acts like a sliding hinge that connects your jawbone to your skull. This system of connective ligaments, muscles, discs, and bone is incredibly complex, and mismatched bites are a common occurrence.
In orthodontia and general dentistry, we refer to a mismatched bite as a "malocclusion." There are three classifications of a malocclusion:
Jaw misalignment can be a serious condition, but luckily, one that can be permanently fixed. It can take up to a year or more to correct the condition. With so many treatments available these days, there is no reason why Amborn Orthodontics cannot help you achieve a well-aligned jaw, with straight and beautiful teeth!
Causes and Complications of an Overbite
An overbite is one is the most common form of a malocclusion. In fact, the American Dental Association (ADA), reports that nearly 70% of children exhibit the signs of having an overbite. An overbite is caused by the shape and size of the jaw or teeth. This could mean you have too much room in the jaw, or not enough to accommodate all your teeth. Infants may develop an overbite with habits like thumb-sucking, overuse of a bottle, and consistent pacifier use. For older children, chronic nail biting and chewing on hard objects can also lead to an overbite. Other causes of an overbite include bruxism (teeth grinding), genetics, and temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ).
If left untreated, an overbite can cause significant health complications, including:
An untreated overbite can also drastically alter your facial structure and lead to low self-esteem.
If your overbite is causing any issues, be sure to make an appointment with Amborn Orthodontics. We also recommend early orthodontia for children, as the condition is easier to treat while the jaw is still in the developmental phase.
Causes and Complications of an Underbite
An underbite occurs when the lower jaw protrudes beyond the upper teeth, causing the bottom teeth to sit in a forward position when the mouth is closed. Underbites are much less common than overbites, affecting only five to ten percent of the population.
A perfectly aligned bite occurs when the top front teeth slightly overlap the bottom teeth. An underbite is the exact opposite of a perfect alignment. Although the extent of an underbite can vary from slight to severe, even a slight underbite can cause significant problems. If you or your child suffers from an underbite, we highly suggest you correct the alignment as soon as possible.
Underbites are almost always the result of genetics. However, a small percentage of underbites can be caused by childhood behaviors. For example, excessive thumb sucking, excessive tongue thrusting, mouth-breathing, excessive pacifier or bottle use, and destructive chewing habits, can all lead to an underbite. While this type of underbite is preventable, the majority have nothing to do with external causes. Patients born with an underbite may have a larger lower jaw or an overcrowding of the teeth.
The vast majority of the time, an underbite requires some form of treatment, even if it is minor. Why? Partly because an underbite will not reverse on its own. If you or your child are experiencing discomfort as the result of an underbite, schedule a consultation with Amborn Orthodontics before the condition worsens. Even if you do not notice any symptoms now, complications will soon follow. The earlier you pursue treatment, the easier it is to achieve superb results!
An underbite misalignment can cause serious pain and erode the enamel of your teeth. They also put you at greater risk for tooth decay, infection, and gum disease.
Causes and Complications of a Crossbite
A crossbite occurs when one or more of your upper teeth rest inside the lower teeth when your mouth is closed. It can occur in the front teeth (anterior crossbite), the back teeth (posterior crossbite), or both. The majority of crossbites are hereditary, although there are other causes that can accelerate the development of a crossbite, including prolonged pacifier use, delayed loss of primary teeth, oversized tonsils, and mouth-breathing.
Although some crossbites may not affect the way you chew or speak, they can still lead to serious complications later in life. Over time, you can develop uneven jaw growth, TMJ problems, tooth decay, gum disease, premature wear, and bone loss.
Severe crossbites will negatively impact routine functions, such as chewing and talking. Like all malocclusions and jaw misalignments, early detection and treatment are key. While a child is still developing, their mouth and jaws are especially responsive to orthodontic treatment. You should strive to get immediate treatment once you detect that you or your child has a crossbite.
Causes and Complications of an Openbite
As the name suggests, an open bite occurs when the upper and lower teeth do not come together when the mouth is closed. An open bite is not only esthetically-displeasing, but it can also cause difficulties with speaking, often leading to a lisp or other type of speech impediment.
There are three major factors that contribute to an open bite: skeletal issues, dental issues, or detrimental oral habits. When a crossbite is genetic, it involves skeletal issues, meaning the molars or jawbones grow away from each other. A “simple” open bite is the result of dental issues, meaning a child had a mixture of both primary and permanent teeth. Like the other malocclusions, thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, and other habits are also contributing factors. Tongue thrusting is the act of pushing the tongue through the teeth during swallowing or speaking. Thumb sucking becomes a real issue if it continues after the permanent teeth are in place. Most children will outgrow these habits before they become major problems.
An open bite that is the result of mixed dentition will self-correct, once the rest of the permanent teeth erupt. In fact, close to 80 percent of simple open bites will spontaneously correct. For those that do not self-correct, orthodontic intervention may be the only solution.
Herbst Jaw Appliance
One of the treatments we offer involves a device known as the Herbst jaw appliance. The Herbst is used to address one of the most common problems in orthodontia, an overbite. In most cases, this is the result of a lower jaw being set too far back, rather than the upper jaw being too far out.
Traditionally, headgear would be used to correct this issue; however, the Herbst appliance has proven to be an effective and superior alternative. The Herbst appliance not only halts the top jaw from continuing to outgrow the bottom, but it also pushes the bottom jaw forward. This can reduce the time it takes for your lower jaw to “catch up,” when compared to headgear.
The Herbst appliance targets the growth center of the bottom jaw and works to modify the area. It helps the lower teeth move forward as well.
During a quick procedure, Dr. Amborn will cement the Herbst onto your child’s molars with metal rings. It cannot be removed by a patient and does not rely on patient compliance, a big benefit for our younger patients. Many times, it is used in conjunction with traditional braces. The appliance includes a metal tube that connects the upper and lower jaws. By adjusting the tube, Dr. Amborn will be able to control the position of the jaw about the upper teeth.
Most treatment with the Herbst jaw appliance typically lasts about a year, but this depends on your child’s specific circumstance. For the first few days, it may feel like a mouthful, but most patients adapt within one to two weeks. Minor irritation of the cheeks and other soft tissues is normal at first. If there is a prolonged irritation, please let us know!
Traditional braces are used to correct some orthodontic issues, including teeth that are crowded, crooked, protruding, out of alignment, or irregularly spaced. Braces can also be used to correct some malocclusions, usually overbites, underbites, and crossbites. Braces not only keep your smile looking good, but they also help keep your teeth, gums, jaw, and oral cavity healthy as well.
Most patients are familiar with traditional braces, probably because they have been a standard orthodontic treatment for decades. In case you are not, traditional braces consist of metal brackets that are cemented to the front of each tooth. These brackets are linked together using a thin metal wire, which is held in place by a series of elastic bands. Throughout the treatment, Dr. Amborn will tighten the wire, which gradually moves the teeth and jaw into alignment. Braces are the go-to treatment for an overbite.
These days, braces are more discrete and convenient than ever before. The metal brackets have gotten smaller, the wires thinner, and the bands come in an assortment of colors, including clear. In fact, there is even a system where the wires and brackets are translucent as well!
Upper and Lower Jaw Expander
An upper jaw expander, as the name suggests, stretches the bone and cartilage of the palate to prevent crowding and crossbites. An upper jaw expander is an excellent way to make room for your child’s permanent teeth without a tooth extraction, especially if they have small jaw or large teeth. Upper jaw expanders are also used to treat crossbites and underbites. Successful jaw expansion is completed before a child’s growth plate (mid-palatal suture) fully closes. This usually occurs between the ages of 14 and 16.
During a minor procedure, Dr. Amborn will attach the upper expander to the molars using metal rings. The appliance, which is suspended right below the palate, has screws that we use to adjust the width of the expander. The appliance will slowly separate and stretch the soft cartilage of the palate with each turn of the screw. Treatment can range from several weeks to several months. You may notice a gap form between the two front teeth—evidence that the device is working.
A lower jaw expander functions differently than the upper because there is no growth plate to close and bone cannot be expanded. Instead, lower expanders will “upright” the teeth that are tipped inward, or “flare” teeth that are over the edge of the supporting ridge. For the process to be successful, there needs to be enough bone and tissue around the root of the teeth. In some cases, a tooth extraction may be necessary. Lower expanders come in several forms—with some similar to upper expanders, and others similar to removable retainers.
If a jaw misalignment is severe, we may recommend orthognathic surgery. Orthognathic surgery involves straightening and realigning the jaws using surgical plates, templates, screws, and wires. Usually, you have to wear braces for nine to 18 months before the surgery. After the surgery and a healing period, Dr. Amborn will proceed with the rest of treatment and remove the braces. Orthognathic surgery can be a serious undertaking, but it may be the only way to eliminate temporomandibular joint pain, headaches, and severe malocclusions that make it very difficult to chew, speak, and sleep.
Schedule a Consultation Today!
If you or your child are in need of orthodontic treatment, call (503) 967-9887, and schedule a consultation visit today!