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How To Fix A Misaligned Jaw

Posted on: July 25, 2019

Smiling little boy holding a yellow skateboard on a yellow background

Many orthodontic patients suffer from a misaligned jaw that affects how teeth sit in the mouth and causes bite problems. Overbites, where the upper teeth protrude, and underbites, when the lower teeth sit out farther than the upper teeth, can cause physical and emotional discomfort. If left untreated, a misaligned jaw can affect how you eat, speak and sleep. Luckily, there are many types of orthodontic treatments and appliances that are used to correct misalignments and give you your confidence back. Find out what to do if you have a misaligned jaw with this guide!

 

What A Misaligned Jaw Looks Like

Many people receive orthodontic treatment to fix their crooked teeth, but braces can also resolve bite issues, as well. Braces are great ways to fix misaligned jaws in children and adults and help prevent the consequences of underbites and overbites. Misaligned jaws are often painful and obvious, and many children are unfortunately teased by their peers because of it. Our “bite” refers to how the upper and lower teeth meet together, which influences how we chew, eat and speak. The two most common bite problems are an underbite and overbite, with an underbite occurring whenever the lower jaw sits in front of the upper jaw while the overbite happens when the upper jaw protrudes abnormally over the lower jaw. While these deformities look awkward, they have consequences that are more serious than aesthetic concerns. Underbite create a bulldog appearance as the lower jaw protrudes out, which not only puts a lot of stress on the joints but also causes tooth wear. Overbites create buck teeth that stick out so far that they can easily break and make it difficult to close the mouth and lips. They also create an elongated face, speech problems and increase the likelihood of tooth decay as oral tissue dries out. Depending on the severity of the misalignment and which bite is involved, treatment options such as braces, cosmetic dentistry and surgery are common ways to fix the problem.

 

Treatment OptionsWoman smiling with braces

For crooked or crowded teeth and misaligned jaws, braces are the standard treatment performed for most patients. Traditional braces with brackets cemented to the teeth and attached with an archwire help with overbites to straighten the upper front teeth and bring them into a non-protruded position. For extreme cases of overbites and underbites, headwear braces may be necessary. These devices are made with internal and external wires, along with straps that fit over the head and neck, to move the upper jaw either forward or backward. Headwear braces are typically worn for 12-14 hours a day, but are only needed whenever traditional braces cannot fix misalignment. For underbites, an upper jaw expander is recommended to widen the palate of the mouth so that the lower teeth move back into position. The expander is placed in the upper palate of the mouth and widened each night with a special key, and after one year, the palate should be wide enough for both the upper and lower jaws to fit together. For the most serious cases of jaw misalignment, orthognathic jaw surgery will be required. Plates, screws and wires will be surgically placed into the jaw by a maxillofacial surgeon to permanently correct bite problems, which will greatly improve speech and sleep.

 

Importance of Orthodontic Visits

While many bite problems are obvious, some are so slight that detection will be hard to notice. In these cases, it’s important that children and adults have regular orthodontic visits so that teeth movement and development can be monitored. Orthodontic visits, especially in young children, are essential to observe incoming teeth, reduce the risk of impacted teeth, monitor jaw development and detect hidden dental issues. Not only will your teeth be examined, but your jaws and mouth will be reviewed for signs of underlying conditions, decay and disease, as well as thoroughly cleaned. These visits also provide patients the information they need to establish good dental habits early on to keep their teeth healthy and free from decay both during and after orthodontic treatment.

 

Get Straighter Teeth With Our Help!

At Belmar Orthodontics, we specialize in helping children and adults alike fix malocclusion, adjust misaligned jaws and get the smiles that they deserve. Whether you or your child has an underbite, overbite or crowded teeth, our team can help you remedy any issue that you are experiencing. Through specialized orthodontic treatment plans and advanced appliances, your mouth issues can be fixed within a short period of time. Call our office today at (303) 225-9016 to get a straighter smile today!

Space Maintainers and Permanent Teeth

Posted on: April 26, 2019

Up close view of child smiling with a missing tooth

Whenever a child loses a tooth prematurely, a space maintainer may be needed to keep the space open so the permanent tooth can grow in correctly. Losing a baby tooth is a natural occurrence, but some baby teeth must be extracted due to dental decay. A space maintainer is a custom-made appliance that helps permanent teeth grow in correctly and prevent future oral health complications. If you are worried about the gap in between your child’s teeth, learn how a space maintainer can keep your child’s teeth straight and allow for proper tooth development!

 

Why Baby Teeth Fall Out Prematurely

Most children get their first full set of baby teeth by the age of 3, and these help them eat their food while serving as placeholders for their future permanent teeth. Occasionally, baby teeth are lost prematurely or permanent teeth erupt later than they should, so space maintainers have become a popular way to support the child’s mouth until the gaps are filled with permanent teeth. There are many reasons why children lose their baby teeth earlier than expected. For one, some experience trauma to the mouth, such as tripping or getting hit in the mouth with some object. Others lose teeth due to “baby bottle decay,” which occurs whenever a child falls asleep at either breast or bottle, or walks around with a bottle for large amounts of time. The sugar content in the milk causes enamel to decay and cavities to appear, which can lead to premature tooth loss. Genetic influences can also affect whether permanent teeth develop or not, which can leave gaps in the mouth. Although rare, some children suffer from oral infections that are severe enough to cause tooth loss, but this is not as common as an injury or baby bottle decay. Even though losing baby teeth prematurely is not inherently bad, the consequences of not having a tooth in the space where a permanent tooth will eventually erupt can cause some complications with malocclusion that will need orthodontic care later on. Space maintainers provide the mouth with the proper space for permanent teeth to erupt into while ensuring that other teeth do not crowd that area until the tooth develops.

 

How Space Maintainers Help

Space maintainers basically “hold space” for permanent teeth once a baby tooth has been lost prematurely. When adult teeth are ready to come into the mouth, there may not be enough room because of the lost space. For this reason, dentists recommend space maintainers to hold open any spaces left by the missing tooth. These devices are typically made of acrylic, with loops and bands made of steel wire to hold them in position. Space maintainers ensure that your child develops their permanent teeth in the right locations while giving support to the surrounding teeth. Teeth are notorious for moving or becoming loose without the support of surrounding teeth, so space maintainers also help other teeth stay in their proper places and not move into the gaps where the missing teeth were once located. Space maintainers aren’t for everyone, though. If your child loses a baby tooth shortly before a permanent tooth is expected to develop, a space maintainer isn’t necessary. For those patients whose permanent teeth won’t be developing for an extended amount of time, space maintainers come in handy to guide those teeth into proper alignment whenever they do erupt.

 

Type of AppliancesPicture of a partial denture with teeth in it

For those who choose space maintainers, they come in two different options: removable and fixed. Removable devices are made of acrylic and use artificial teeth to hold open the spaces. These are ideal for older children who are capable of removing and cleaning them on their own. For children with several missing teeth, partial dentures are another option to maintain the spaces in the mouth. Fixed maintainers are attached with dental cement to the teeth beside the gap. These are helpful for young children or those who have lost back teeth. Fixed retainers can be fitted on the upper or lower jaw to maintain space for front or back teeth. The device that your child will be given will depend upon the number and location of missing teeth in their mouth, but age is also considered, as well.

 

There are quite a few different options to choose from if your dentist recommends a fixed maintainer for your child. Some of the most popular options include:

 

  • Lingual holding arch: Used to maintain space for lower back teeth on both sides.
  • Band-and-loop device: Recommended when one or more baby molars are lost in one dental arch. Stainless steel wire that is held in place by orthodontic bands that allows the permanent tooth to erupt without blocking it.
  • Distal shoe appliance: Fitted over the baby first molar and maintains the space for the permanent molar once the tooth is lost.
  • Transpalatal arch: Fitted on the upper jaw to preserve space on both sides of the dental arch. Held in place by wire fastened around the surrounding teeth.

 

Each of these devices are custom-made to fit to your child’s mouth. The dentist will take impressions of your child’s teeth, then send that impression to the dental laboratory to create the appliance.

 

Advantages of Child Orthodontics

With the modern technology and tools that are available to dental patients, child orthodontics has become more popular and necessary to maintain the oral health of young kids. Especially if your child loses a baby tooth prematurely, visiting with an orthodontist early on can help detect hidden dental issues, observe the progress of incoming teeth, decrease the risk for permanent tooth extractions and guide incoming teeth into their ideal positions.

 

If your child is in need of a space maintainer or is having issues with crowded teeth, call Belmar Orthodontics at (303) 225-9016! Our team is dedicated to your oral health and is ready to help your family get the beautiful smile that they deserve!

Closeup of crowded teeth in dental patient's mouth

Upper jaw expansion is an orthodontic treatment that creates more space growth for developing kids by widening the circumference of the palate. This procedure helps correct crossbites, reduces overcrowding, and improves breathing ability. Most adolescents will receive this treatment before 16 years of age, but adults can also expand their upper jaw, if needed, as well. Read on to find out how upper jaw expansion works and what the advantages are with these tips!

 

Jaw Positioning and Malocclusion

Many patients deal with malocclusion, or crooked teeth and a poor bite. A poor bite refers to the way the upper and lower teeth line up, which is affected by the structure of the jaw. A “normal bite” consists of the upper teeth sitting slightly forward of the lower teeth, which allows for proper movement. Malocclusion is normally a cosmetic problem, but when it interferes with how teeth erupt, it can cause crooked teeth and tooth decay. A common cause of malocclusion is having too much or too little room in the jaw, which affects whether teeth grow in crowded or crooked. The shape and size of the jaw can also affect how severe someone’s malocclusion is, but thumb-sucking and tooth loss can also influence this process. For many patients, especially children, malocclusion is caused by a limited amount of space in the mouth for teeth to grow, so they either grow in crooked or the bite is altered. For this reason, many young dental patients receive upper jaw expansion treatments to allow more room in the mouth and prevent malocclusion. As more study and insight has been gained on the structure of the mouth, there are now more possibilities to fix incorrect bites, adjust occlusion and prevent crooked teeth starting from an earlier age.

 

Reasons For Upper Jaw Expansion

Upper jaw expansion is a specific treatment for widening the circumference of the palate to increase the perimeter of the dental arch in the mouth, which creates more space for teeth to grow. When there is enough room for teeth to grow, they are more likely to develop correctly. During childhood, palatal or maxillary expanders are used to aid this process. Through these expanders, dentists can help correct a crossbite that is caused by malocclusion. Normally, the upper teeth should close around the outside of the lower teeth, but when someone has a narrow palate, the opposite can occur and create a crossbite. As the upper teeth bite inside the lower teeth, an asymmetrical growth of the lower jaw can develop and change the symmetry of one’s face. This can cause serious complications if not addressed early on. Lastly, upper jaw expansion methods improve breathing ability, which is greatly affected by a narrow jaw. A narrow or deep upper jaw can make it difficult for a child to breathe through their nose and results in constant mouth breathing. While it doesn’t sound very serious, consistent mouth breathing keeps the mouth open at night, allowing for unfiltered bacteria to enter into the oral cavity, causing dry mouth and halitosis (bad breath).

 

Treatment OptionsPatient with dental expander in mouth being treated by dentist

Upper jaw expansion is most successful when done at an earlier age while the mouth is still developing. For adults, those with a crossbite may only need a dental expansion instead of a palatal expansion, but may need surgery if palatal expansion is required to fix concerns. Depending on the age of the patient and the reason for treatment, a rapid palatal expander (RPE) may be used to increase the width of the jaw. The RPE is attached to the upper molars by bonding or cemented bands, and uses a special key that is used to widen the space by turning a screw in the appliance at certain points in time. This process puts extra pressure on the two halves of the upper jaw, which causes extra bone to grow between them. Gradually, by turning the screw with the key each day, the jaw widens to make room available for developing teeth. For adults, removable expanders can be used, as well, whenever the degree of expansion is minimal. Resembling a partial denture, removable expanders are typically made of chrome and recommended for adults as they more easily comply with treatment. After treatment, an orthodontic retainer may be given to maintain the space until all permanent teeth have developed. A third but least common option for expansion is a surgically assisted rapid palatal expander (SARPE), which is a combination of orthodontic treatment and surgery. This is used in the case that expansion cannot be achieved by the appliance alone. A custom appliance is made before surgery, and while during surgery, the upper jaw is intentionally fractured to separate it into movable sections. This allows the bone to grow between the fractures after the appliance is inserted.

 

Pros and Cons

Palatal expanders help straighten teeth, improve breathing and fix incorrect bites, but there are important suggestions to make note of. Since children are most likely to have one, a palatal expander, just like any orthodontic appliance, needs to be thoroughly cleaned each day to prevent plaque buildup and decay around the teeth. For young children, this can be difficult to do without help and can be easily overlooked, so parental supervision is essential. Additionally, the entire process can cost up to $3,000, depending on the degree of correction. For many, there is also some minor discomfort during expansion, but it is well worth it when you’re avoiding an inaccurate bite later in life.

 

For more information on which treatment option is best to fix yours or your child’s palate, call Belmar Orthodontics at (303) 225-9016! Our experienced team is dedicated to improving your oral health and getting you the smile that you deserve!

 

Diastema: What Is It?

Posted on: March 15, 2019

Young woman holding magnifying glass over mouth to show gap between teeth

A gap between the teeth, called “diastema,” are common among many dental patients and can be found between any teeth in the mouth, but usually between the two upper front teeth. Why do these spaces develop, and what are the differences between a diastema in children versus adults? Diastemata develop through a variety of reasons, such as misaligned jaw bones, missing teeth, and thumb-sucking. Not all spaces can be prevented, but many can be adjusted through orthodontic treatment. If you have a diastema that you would like to have treated, learn what your treatment options are through this guide!

 

Changes in Orthodontic Care

Orthodontic treatment options have been revolutionized through modern technology and dental science. Poorly aligned teeth have been a nuisance for dental patients for hundreds of years, and orthodontic work was even performed on willing subjects dating back to the ancient Egyptians and the Romans. From crude metal bands to catgut, archaeologists have discovered that even ancient societies performed orthodontic care on patients in an effort to straighten teeth. For those suffering from malocclusion, or misalignment, a common practice for moving emerging teeth into their correct position was by regularly pushing them with the fingers, a practice that has long been outdated since the invention of custom-fit metal appliances in the 18th century. Eventually, orthodontics treatment evolved into the process that we see today: brackets being cemented to each individual tooth with a metal wire attached to cinch the teeth together. Options for invisible treatments, such as lingual braces or even Invisalign, further allow patients to choose how they straighten their teeth. While there are so many options to choose from to decide how to straighten our teeth, how our teeth first develop and erupt in our mouth is a separate process. Since every patient is different and will experience a variety of dental issues, some patients may face something called “diastema,” which can have certain dental complications and be caused by a variety of reasons. Understanding how diastemata form and what you can do to fix them can give you the freedom to be in control of your oral health and appearance.

 

Gaps Between Teeth

Many people across the world are born with a diastema, or a gap between their teeth. These spaces can form anywhere in the mouth, but are most commonly found between the two upper front teeth. Both children and adults can have a diastema, and many times a child’s diastema will disappear once their permanent teeth grow in. While some gaps are relatively small and barely noticeable, others can be quite large and can cause cosmetic issues for some patients. While relatively harmless, most patients who fix their diastema do it for aesthetic reasons.

 

There are a variety of reasons why a diastema develops. A mismatch between the size of the jawbone and the size of teeth that develops can cause gaps to appear, or even too small of teeth (or a missing tooth) can create spaces, as well. Sometimes a diastema can be caused by an oversized labial frenum. This part of the mouth is a piece of tissue that extends from the inside of your upper lip to the gum just above your upper front teeth. Occasionally, this will grow too much and pass between the two front teeth, causing a gap. Bad habits, such as thumb sucking, can also lead to gaps between the teeth as the movement of the thumb tends to push teeth forward, creating a gap. A diastema can also develop due to incorrect swallowing reflexes. Normally, the tongue will push against the roof of the mouth when swallowing, but some people’s tongues may push against the teeth, which causes separation. This is called a tongue thrust. Lastly, gaps can form from periodontal disease in which inflammation damages the gums and teeth, which can cause teeth to loosen and fall out, or decay.

 

Treatment Options

A diastema can result from a mixture of orthodontic problems, or it can develop on its own. Many people who fix the gap in their teeth do it for appearance, but for those patients who have missing teeth, they might need to have a dental implant or bridge inserted. More often than not, braces are needed to close the gap between teeth, no matter where the gap is located. Fixing a diastema affects the entire mouth structure, so braces will be installed on both the top and lower teeth for proper alignment. If your diastema is due to an oversized labial frenum, a frenectomy will be performed to help the gap close on its own. If there is any sign of gum disease, periodontal treatment will be needed first to restore gum health before any braces will be put on.

 

Keeping The Gap ClosedHand holding a clear retainer

Spaces will tend to stay closed when done through orthodontic or dental repair. To prevent any gaps from developing in the future, make sure to wear your retainer that you will receive after treatment and use it according to your orthodontist’s instructions. For extra protection, your orthodontist might also splint (attach) the backs of the teeth to other teeth with composite and a wire to prevent them from moving. If you notice a space between your teeth or in your child’s mouth, contact your dentist for an evaluation to determine what kind of orthodontic treatment you might need. For more information on how to fix a diastema and improve your oral health, call Belmar Orthodontics at (303) 225-9016 to start improving your smile today!