Crooked Jaw & Treatment Options
Most people never stop to think about their jaws until something goes wrong. Living with a malformed jaw can be incredibly trying. It causes severely painful, emotional and physical side effects like headaches, an unusual facial structure, which can cause low self-esteem and in other cases, facial and ear pain.
Fortunately, there is a wide range of treatment solutions available today to remedy even the most advanced problems.
What is a misaligned Jaw?
A misaligned jaw is a condition where the upper and lower jaws don’t meet correctly. It often causes a variety of conditions, with the following being the most common;
- Overjet: Protruding upper teeth
- Reverse bite: when the lower teeth sit in front of the upper teeth
The effects of a misaligned jaw are usually physical and emotional. In severe cases, this condition can interfere with your eating, speech, sleeping and even breathing. It can also cause pain and discomfort even when your jaws are not moving. Misaligned jaw patients, especially children, can suffer emotional pain or become self-conscious especially if they are bullied.
Misaligned Jaw Symptoms
Difficulty in chewing
When your upper and lower jaws are misaligned, they clash with each other rather than glide smoothly against each other. This may result in pain and discomfort, making eating difficult.
The misaligned jaw can prevent you from breathing through your nose easily, making you to only breathe through your mouth. This can cause other health issues.
Crooked, twisted or overcrowded teeth are the most common signs of this disorder as they can affect your facial structure.
Trouble with speech
Another common sign of a crooked jaw is a speech impediment. However, proper treatment and some speech therapy can help correct your impaired speech.
Facial or jaw pain that occurs after eating or speaking
The crooked jaw can cause you pain after eating, talking or even smiling.
Ongoing headaches or facial pain
Patients with a crooked jaw may have migraine headaches caused by the teeth and jaw muscles straining to function correctly.
Irregular teeth wear
A patient with a crooked jaw may experience tooth sensitivity and uneven wear. The enamel wears away much faster on teeth that experience forced grinding.
Causes of an uneven jaw
For the jaws to function correctly, they need the bones, muscles, and tendons to work together. A malfunction in any of these structures or lack of synchronicity in their function can cause an uneven jaw. Other causes include;
Trauma or broken jaw
You may suffer trauma from a fall, accident, sport-related injury or assault. This, in turn, can cause a fractured, dislocated or a broken jaw. Significant damage in your jaw may require you to undergo surgery to help restructure and heal it.
Temporomandibular joint disorders, popularly known as TMJ disorder, is a prevalent medical condition that can occur as a result of trauma or arthritis. Other times, the symptoms of TMJ may occur without an apparent cause. Fortunately, there are various ways you can treat it;
- During acutely painful episodes, apply ice to your jaw to minimise pain and inflammation
- Take over the counter pain relievers
- Avoid strenuous jaw movements
- Practice TMJ exercises to reduce pain and improve your jaw movement
- Wear purposely-designed therapeutic splints to reposition your jaw by raising your bite and bringing your teeth out of contact temporarily
Some people are born with a jaw condition. This means that you may have a naturally crooked jaw. These conditions can be corrected or managed with supportive care and lifestyle changes.
Teeth misalignment can cause an uneven jaw. When the teeth are misaligned, they may get in the way of your jaw settling on its correct position.
Solutions for a misaligned jaw/ living with a jaw misalignment
Fortunately, people experiencing this condition have an array of options when it comes to treatment.
Stop bad habits
According to research published in the Science Daily, poor postural and balance can cause a bad bite. These bad habits include sleeping on your stomach, sucking your thumb, poor diet and oral hygiene habits and resting your head on one hand for long periods
There are cases where orthodontic braces can be used to correct a misaligned jaw. For this treatment, the orthodontist places the traditional cement brackets to your teeth and connects them with a wire. The dentist tightens the wire, gradually moving your teeth and jaw back into alignment for a period ranging from 1 to 3 years. This treatment is often recommended for any condition other than very mild malocclusions.
This treatment is recommended when the upper jaw is too far forward for the standard braces to correct as required.
Upper jaw expander
The Upper Jaw expander is a wireframe device that fits over the upper palate. It is recommended for a reverse bite , where the lower teeth sit in front of your upper teeth as you close your mouth. The patient is expected to widen the device a tiny bit every day. After a period of regular adjustments every day, this device causes the upper jaw to extend, correcting the misalignment. A similar devise placed across the palate can correct cross bites on one or both sides.
Reverse pull face mask
The backward pull face mask is a dental device that looks like a headgear brace that is worn overnight. Your dentist fixes the metal brace over your upper back teeth and attaches them to your facemask. The facemask is wrapped around your head to help the upper jaw into position.
This treatment is open to adults who have mild crooked jaws. The dentist reshapes your teeth and/or places dental veneers on to your teeth. While this does not fix the crooked jaw, it can make it less noticeable.
Avoid TMJ triggers
Avoid gum chewing, stress, poor posture and teeth grinding as they all enhance jaw or teeth misalignment. Chew slowly.
If other treatments fail in helping to align your crooked jaw, then you can go for surgery. However, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial research, patients should first seek non-surgical treatments before opting for surgery. This is mainly because more studies are still needed on the safety and effectiveness of most surgical procedures for jaw joints. Also, once it’s done, it cannot be reversed. So, make sure to seek a second or more opinions before undergoing jaw surgery.
This treatment is recommended for people with an upper jaw deformity. It corrects a significantly receded upper jawbone, crossbite or when you have too many or too few teeth showing. It is also used to adjust an open bite.
This is suitable for patients with the receded mandible or other mandible position abnormalities It fixes a receded lower jaw. It allows the surgeons to move the lower jawbone forward or backwards, depending on the best adjustment and bite movement.
This surgical treatment is recommended for those whose crooked jaw is caused by advancement or retraction of the chin. It helps to reposition your mandible into its proper position, thereby correcting the crooked jaw.
This is a medical procedure that keeps your jaws closed for a while to fix a crooked jaw or to heal a broken or fractured jaw.
Oral care during treatment
Make sure to brush your teeth and floss daily, even throughout the treatment to enhance healthy, cavity-free teeth.
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