Shaping the Jaws: Why You Should Care

Children have the same facial structures they will have as adults. Consequently, it is sometimes useful to correct imbalances of the muscles of the face along with tongue and tooth-positioning problems by shaping the jaws early on, before they cause breathing and other issues. This makes sense to do as the child’s bones are still developing, rather than after all the damage has been done.

Believe it or not, children as young as seven can suffer from facial bones and muscles that are out of balance due to a narrow jaw, problems swallowing or tongue thrust (part of a breathing issue) or other malformations.

To correct this, we apply braces and provide the child with an expander appliance to coax the structures into balance. Failing to do this will present problems when the child’s adult teeth come in around age 11 or 12, and thereafter potentially interfere with breathing and sleeping.

Acting as the permanent teeth are first bursting through the gums aids in their positioning. The goal is to correct a skeletal problem at an early age while guiding the teeth into the mouth correctly. Doing so maximizes the ability to create or maintain space in the child’s jaws to allow teeth to grow in, and minimizes the opportunity for malformation.

Why is it critical to address these issues so early? Because after about age nine, the seam in the roof of the mouth, called a palatal suture, fuses into solid bone. Once it does, widening the upper palate from side-to-side is nearly impossible. If we address it before the suture closes, we can more easily expand the upper jaw and create the space needed for all the teeth to come in.

We’re talking about an investment in your child’s health that will almost certainly pay off in time and money as well as future health. Children who undergo this procedure early rarely need to have their baby teeth extracted as their adult teeth grow in.

What are we preventing with early treatment?  It’s more than just a flaring of teeth, underbites and adult teeth erupting sideways through the gums. Consider your child’s future health.

Children are experiencing more breathing and sleeping problems than ever because of allergens in food and the environment, and immune system issues unknown to humans in generations past. These breathing issues lead children to thrust their tongues and heads forward when asleep, causing further misalignment of the jaw and interrupted sleep.

The long-term results can be miserable. Adults with sleep apnea are fatigued and unrefreshed, causing their bodies to break down as the cells become slowly malnourished. Misaligned jaws lead to chronic head, neck and shoulder pain.

All this is easily averted by addressing the shape of your child’s jaw when they are young.