Recognizing and Treating a Child’s Misaligned Jaw

Have you noticed your child rubbing their jaw lately? Maybe they’ve complained about pain or discomfort when eating or yawning? If so, this could be a sign that there’s a problem with their jaw requiring attention. Jaw pain is fairly common in children and adults alike, and while there are several possible causes for it, it’s often due to a misaligned bite in younger patients. This is what we call a malocclusion, and the good news is, it can be corrected with orthodontic treatment! 

We see many children here at Embrace Orthodontics, most of whom are dealing with a misaligned bite causing jaw pain and other difficulties. To help catch malocclusions and other problems early on, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends every child have an orthodontic evaluation by the time they’re about seven years old. By this age, an experienced orthodontist can ensure their teeth, jaw, and bite are developing the way they should be.

Whether your child has been exhibiting symptoms of a misaligned jaw or it’s simply time to schedule their first orthodontic visit, we’d love to meet you both. During this examination, Dr. Sievers and Dr. Van Vooren will keep an eye out for several common conditions. Many parents find it helpful to understand what these issues are and how they can be corrected, so keep reading below to learn more! 

Crowded teeth

Good dental hygiene is essential for maintaining oral health, but crowded teeth can interfere with this by making brushing and flossing more difficult. For this reason, children with crooked teeth are sometimes more likely to develop tooth decay, cavities, and other dental problems.

Gapped teeth

Gaps in teeth are very common in childhood and can occur for a variety of reasons, like genetics, thumb sucking, and extended use of a bottle or pacifier. If your child has a bit too much space between their teeth, our expert team will be able to identify any underlying causes and address them.

Missing teeth

Some children have a noticeable gap in their smile because of congenitally missing teeth that never grew. Others may have lost permanent teeth due to injury or disease. Cases involving missing teeth benefit from orthodontic appliances like braces, which move the existing teeth into the proper positions. A dentist can then place a bonded bridge or implant to fill the gap formed from the missing tooth.

Open bite

With an open bite, the upper and lower rows of the front teeth don’t touch or close when smiling or chewing. Many open bite cases come from extended thumb sucking in childhood, which can cause the teeth to grow into a noticeably rounded formation.

Recognizing and Treating a Child’s Misaligned Jaw

Deep overbite

When a child has a deep overbite, the lower teeth recede so far behind the upper teeth that they bite into the roof of the mouth. The upper front teeth also overlap the lower front teeth. Out of all the bite disorders, a deep overbite is the most detrimental to the teeth and health of the jaw joints. It can also have an impact on the shape and appearance of a child’s face.

Underbite

An underbite occurs when the bottom teeth protrude in front of the upper teeth. This type of bite misalignment can cause pain at the jaw joint and the angled pressure can wear down some of the front teeth, which can be uncomfortable or even painful.

Overjet

Overjets are more commonly known as “buck teeth” and occur when the top front teeth protrude far beyond the bottom front teeth. It’s most effectively treated when diagnosed early, as this allows us to use the child’s growth to our advantage and guide the eruption of the teeth.

Treating a child’s misaligned jaw

Because every child’s bite is different, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to treating their smile. Our doctors create customized treatment plans for every patient based on their specific needs and goals. This plan may include one or more orthodontic appliances, something we’ll discuss with you in detail during your child’s consultation. Let’s look at the treatment options our practice offers! 

Metal braces

Metal braces are one of the most recognizable symbols of orthodontics, and also the most common type of treatment. The brackets are made of a mix of stainless steel and other high-quality metals, making them very durable and long-lasting. Modern metal braces are also much more comfortable and lighter than they used to be! They deliver excellent results and can be especially useful in cases that are more severe or complicated.

Clear braces

Also known as ceramic braces, clear braces work in the same way metal braces do but have the added benefit of semi-translucent ceramic brackets. While clear braces are about the same size and shape as metal braces, they’re able to better blend in with a patient’s natural smile for a more subtle straightening option. This is especially true when they’re paired with clear, white, or tooth-colored wires and elastic ties! While ceramic braces are strong, metal braces can tolerate more pressure and may be a better option for younger patients.

Invisalign clear aligners

Instead of brackets and wires, the Invisalign system uses a series of clear removable aligners to move teeth into the desired positions over time. This is accomplished by wearing them 20-22 hours per day and replacing them every 1-2 weeks for the next aligner in the system. Invisalign offers patients a bit more freedom and flexibility than other treatment options do, thanks to the removability of the aligners! This means no food restrictions and an easier time brushing and flossing. We offer both Invisalign and Invisalign Teen.

Recognizing and Treating a Child’s Misaligned Jaw

Improve your child’s bite with Embrace Orthodontics

While it’s true that correcting a misaligned bite can prevent and eliminate jaw pain, it’s beneficial in many other ways. These can include:

  • a reduced risk of tooth decay and cavities
  • improved speech
  • a reduced risk of chipped or lost teeth
  • improved oral function 
  • increased self-confidence
  • an easier time eating, sleeping, and breathing

Orthodontic treatment is an investment of both your time and finances, but your child’s smile will reap the rewards for many years to come! Correcting their bite will have a positive impact on their life by improving their overall oral health and boosting their self-esteem. 

With offices in Cambridge, Pine City, and Lindstrom, it’s never been easier to achieve a happy and healthy smile for your child. If you’d like to learn more about how our orthodontists can identify and treat jaw pain in children, get in touch today to schedule a FREE consultation!