If you have a misaligned jaw and are discouraged, believing there is little that can be done, we may be able to offer you some help. Correcting your jaw can help improve your daily life, health, and confidence. At Central Texas Orthodontics in Austin, TX, we strive to help our patients find the perfect solution to their jaw alignment issues.
How Can Your Orthodontist Fix a Misaligned Jaw?
Aligners and Braces
If your misaligned jaw is caused by misaligned teeth, braces or aligners may be enough to set it straight. Many teenagers and adults feel as though it’s too late for braces or aligners to work effectively. Thankfully that doesn’t have to be the case. Both aligners and braces can be very helpful in correcting bite issues for people of all ages.
Clear aligners are an appealing option for those who want an effective way to straighten their teeth without having to use more visible braces. One of the options we offer our patients is Invisalign. It is comfortable, almost invisible, and you can remove it with ease. It is made with 3D imaging to ensure it will slide over your teeth like a perfect, invisible glove.
Are Clear Aligners Right for You?
The discreet nature of this option combined with its proven track record makes it an excellent option for many patients seeking to correct their bite. The clear aligner will work to straighten your smile as you wear it, but you aren’t stuck with it constantly.
Its ability to be removed means you can continue to eat your favorite foods. It also means that cleaning your teeth isn’t any harder than it used to be, since you won’t have to floss around traditional braces.
Quality and Comfort
Since they aren’t made of metal, clear aligners tend to be more comfortable. While metal braces have come a long way, some patients still find them irritating and abrasive. That won’t be an issue with clear aligners like Invisalign.
At the start of your treatment, we can lay out your treatment plan virtually. This tool will allow you to see what to expect throughout your treatment and what your finished, beautiful smile will look like.
Ceramic braces won’t usually be recommended for your lower teeth, but if your upper front teeth are the ones that need to be straightened, this option may be a good choice for you. Like clear aligners, clear ceramic braces have the benefit of being less visible than traditional braces.
Are Ceramic Braces Right for You?
The clear aspect of ceramic braces makes this a popular choice for adults and teenagers who want braces without it being as obvious in pictures or in person. They are slightly larger and can be more brittle than metal braces. This is what makes them better suited for front teeth, where they won’t be put under as much strain during everyday use.
These braces are generally considered a stronger option than ceramic braces. Self-ligating braces are fairly similar to traditional braces, as they are made of the same materials and are the same size. Although they have many similarities to traditional braces, there are some unique benefits they offer.
A Specialized Clip Instead of Elastics
The best part of self-ligating braces is that the use of elastics has been replaced with a specialized clip. This means that self-ligating braces don’t need as many adjustments as traditional braces do. The clip also puts less pressure on your teeth, which can lead to a more comfortable experience.
Other Non-Surgical Options
Headgear Braces or Reverse Headgear
While braces and aligners are the more common treatment option when it comes to correcting crooked teeth, you may need to rely on a combination of treatments to get you on track depending on the severity of your bite issue. Aside from braces or aligners, there are some other options that could help you get your jaw aligned if you want to avoid surgery.
Headgear braces are a powerful tool that can correct more severe bite issues. 12 to 14 hours of daily wear is the norm, but this can vary on your situation and needs. Reverse headgear is usually used in patients who are still growing and have an underdeveloped upper jaw. It’s best suited for underbites, and it uses gentle pressure to guide the jaw into the direction it should be growing.
Why Are These Options Still in Use?
Temporary implants have taken over the use of headgear in many cases, but while it’s true that the use of headgear braces or reverse headgear isn’t as common as it used to be, there is still a place for them. If the bite issues are complex, these options can help correct jaw alignment, bite, and tooth alignment at the same time.
Genioplasty is best known for being used cosmetically, but it can also be used to correct jaw misalignment. The treatment usually involves reshaping or otherwise repositioning your chin. During surgery, the bones of the chin are separated from your jaw. It can then be adjusted as necessary to correct alignment.
Maxillary and/or Mandibular Osteotomy
Both of these surgeries require that either the upper or lower jaw be carefully broken in a controlled manner. Maxillary osteotomy requires an incision into your jaw above your upper teeth. Mandibular osteotomy utilizes an incision in the back of the mouth.
Jaw Wiring Procedure
This treatment is typically used only when the jaw has been severely damaged or fractured. Much like a cast, this treatment will hold your jaw in place so it can heal properly. This is considered a last resort treatment and will require that you drink liquid foods instead of chew.
What Can Cause Jaw Misalignment?
Teeth misalignment is a common cause behind a misaligned jaw or uneven bite. When your teeth are out of place, it can prevent your jaw from sitting in the right position. Thankfully this is also one of the causes that is easier to fix, as it can be corrected with braces or aligners.
In some cases, good results can be achieved in as little as six months, but it can also take a year or more depending on how severe the case is.
Along with some hereditary factors, sometimes birth defects can cause a misaligned jaw. These defects are sometimes known as a “faulty jaw” and the severity can range from very mild to moderate or severe. The right treatment for jaw issues caused by a birth defect will depend on the severity as well as the age of the patient.
Some of the most common jaw injuries that can lead to jaw misalignment are falls, trauma from sports, car accidents, or assault. Regardless of the cause, any injury that leads to the jaw being dislocated or fractured can cause some serious bite issues if the jaw doesn’t heal properly.
Injuries should always be checked over by your doctor, but the good news is that some mild fractures to the jaw may heal fine without any interference. More severe breaks may call for surgery to ensure that the jaw “sets” correctly. You may also need to have your jaw stabilized surgically in case the injury has weakened it.
Temporomandibular Joint Disorders
This disorder is also known as TMJ, TMD, or TMJD. It involves the temporomandibular joint which is responsible for connecting your skull to your lower jaw, or mandible. This joint is located in front of your ears on either side of your head. It plays an important role in jaw functionality, allowing it to open and close properly so you can talk and eat.
When this joint has been injured or otherwise affected, it can cause painful symptoms and affect the alignment of your jaw.
Jaw Misalignment FAQ
1. Why Should I Have a Misaligned Jaw Treated?
Alignment issues with the jaw can cause other issues when it comes to your oral or overall health.
When your bite is out of line, it can cause your teeth to wear unevenly. Enamel is the protective coating of your teeth. When that is worn down, it exposes the next layer, which is your dentin. This can put you at further risk of tooth issues such as cavities and eventual tooth loss.
In addition, a misaligned bite can put a strain on your jaw muscles, which can lead to headaches. Sometimes these headaches are severe enough to interfere with sleep.
Trouble with Speech
Anything that interferes with our ability to clearly form words with our mouths can interfere with speech. Teeth in particular play a very important role in forming words. As such, speech difficulties can develop due to jaw alignment issues.
When the upper and lower jaw aren’t lined up with each other, it can sometimes make chewing more challenging, especially when it comes to harder foods. When the jaw is set into its proper place, it can make eating easier and less stressful.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
When the jaw isn’t working in harmony with the muscles of your face and neck, it can cause issues with the tongue and airway while you sleep. This can lead to obstructive sleep apnea, where people occasionally pause breathing during sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea can interfere with your ability to get a good night’s sleep and can cause snoring, fatigue, and headaches.
2. Will Braces or Aligners Damage the Jaw?
Aligners and braces are not usually considered a threat to jaw health. The jaw being out of alignment is generally seen as the greater risk. During a consultation, you will have the opportunity to ask any questions you have about your different treatment options and any concerns you have about them. We’d be happy to answer them!
3. How Can I Know What the Right Treatment Option Is?
Treating jaw misalignment can be a complicated process, and it can be overwhelming to try to decide what treatment option is going to mesh well with your life and your unique needs. Our office will strive to lay out the best options possible for you so you can have some of that stress removed and have greater confidence in your decision.
Get Ready for a Beautiful Smile
Our ever-evolving practice keeps us up to date on the latest technology, as we continue to keep a “patient first” mentality forefront on our minds. Not only do we want to help your smile, but we also hope your experience with us makes you smile. If you would like to learn more about how we can help you reach your smile goals, contact Central Texas Orthodontics, of Austin, TX, today for a consultation!