When we think about braces, we often associate them with straightening crooked, misaligned, or gappy teeth, helping them become straighter, more aligned, and more aesthetically pleasing. However, something that is less known is how braces can and are being used to influence the structure of the jaw.
In some cases, the severity of malocclusion can impact the alignment of the jaw and in turn, impact our facial features. Let’s take a look at how braces can help jaw alignment and improve our overall confidence and oral health.
How do braces work?
Braces, including fixed metal, ceramic, lingual, and clear braces are one of the most common tools used by orthodontists to achieve correction of dental and facial irregularities, including problems with teeth alignment and jaw structure. They work by applying constant and gentle pressure to the teeth and jaw to change their position. The metal brackets and wires on fixed braces, over time, will move the teeth into the desired position, which is overseen by your orthodontist. Your orthodontist will tweak the wires of your braces, to influence where each tooth needs to move and extra measures such as rubber bands can be used to impact the movement of the jaw.
Understanding jaw development
Understanding the natural development of the jaw structure will ultimately lead us to answer the question of whether braces can be used to change the shape of the jaw or treat jaw misalignment. The jawbone is not a static entity; it changes and adapts throughout a person’s life. During childhood and adolescence, the jaw is continuously growing and developing, making it more responsive to orthodontic interventions.
Is it Possible for Braces to Affect the Shape of Your Jaw?
Braces can affect the position and alignment of your jaw, which in turn can appear to change your facial features. As mentioned previously, during childhood, our jaws can develop at different rates which can in turn create issues with our bite, such as crossbite, overbite, and underbite.
People with moderate to severe jaw misalignment tend to see more noticeable changes to their jaw and facial features, while those with less severe issues like crooked teeth but a normal bite, may see minimal changes. The relationship between braces and jaw alignment can be summarised as:
- Correction of Bite Issues – braces are primarily used to address malocclusions, which are problems with the alignment of the upper and lower teeth when the jaws close. There are various types of malocclusions, including overbites, underbites, and crossbites. By exerting pressure on the teeth over time, braces gradually shift them into proper alignment, improving the bite and jaw positioning.
- Jaw Growth Modification – in some cases, especially when orthodontic treatment is initiated at a young age, braces can influence jaw growth. Orthodontists may use appliances such as headgear or functional appliances to guide the growth of the jaw in a desired direction. This can be particularly beneficial for individuals with severe jaw discrepancies, like a significant overbite or underbite.
- Improved Facial Aesthetics – proper alignment of the teeth and jaws can enhance facial aesthetics. When teeth are aligned correctly, it can create a more harmonious facial profile by improving the balance between the upper and lower jaw, leading to a more symmetrical appearance.
How the Jaw Changes Through Braces Treatment
Depending on the type of malocclusion being treated, this can impact how the jaw changes and moves into its new position, which in turn, can affect your facial aesthetics.
Most people have some degree of overbite, where the upper teeth significantly overlap the lower teeth. However, if the space between the upper and lower teeth is overly large, braces may be needed for correction. The position of the upper jaw in an overbite can make the chin and lower lip look smaller, braces can correct the jawline and bring the upper and lower arches together, decreasing the apparent receding chin.
An underbite is where the lower teeth sit in front of the upper teeth when closing the mouth, making the lower jaw stick out. Correcting the lower and upper teeth in an underbite, to come together properly can reduce the chin position and change facial appearance in the process.
This is where the upper and lower teeth do not meet when the mouth is closed, making biting, and chewing food difficult. Braces can close the space between the lower and upper teeth, allowing them to close properly, therefore enhancing the appearance of the cheeks and lips and preventing the lower face from appearing overly long.
A crossbite is where some of the bottom teeth sit in front of some of the upper teeth. If crossbite is moderate to severe, some people can shift their jaw to one side to compensate for jaw structure and create a more asymmetrical facial appearance. Braces can correct a crossbite by shifting the soft tissues into better alignment.
How to Maintain Changes to Your Jaw After Treatment
After the braces are removed, patients are often required to wear retainers to maintain the new alignment of teeth and jaws to prevent regression. This phase is crucial in allowing the jawbone to solidify around the repositioned teeth, ensuring long-term stability. Your orthodontist will advise you on how long and how often you should wear your retainer to ensure your results are maintained.
Chorley Orthodontics: Your Specialist Orthodontist in Chorley is Here to Help
If you have noticed a significant impact on your dental health due to a misaligned jaw or bite issues, then you may benefit from speaking to our friendly and helpful orthodontist in Chorley. Chorley Orthodontics is a specialist-led orthodontist in Chorley, which employs a team of friendly, passionate, and enthusiastic professionals who work hard toward providing the best possible care and achieving the best possible results.