Can Braces Change the Shape of my Face?

Can braces change the shape of my face? Drs. Lutz and Claudia Bachmann address why successful orthodontic treatment may change the shape of a patient’s face.

ALBANY, AUCKLAND— If you seek orthodontic treatment for yourself or your children, it’s probably to achieve a better looking and functioning smile. And sometimes, successful treatment results in a slight change in facial shape.

The shape of your face is determined by facial tissues and bone structure-which includes your teeth.

“If you have an extreme malocclusion- misalignment of teeth or dental arches- or imbalance, it’s possible that correcting it may alter your facial appearance,” says Dr. Lutz Bachmann. “However, the change would only further balance your features and contribute to an overall improvement in your appearance.”

In fact, many orthodontic treatments for children are designed to improve unbalanced facial structures, which are often an outward sign of malocclusions or poor habits that include mouth breathing and thumb sucking.

“One of the main reasons we encourage parents to bring children in for a visit by the age of 10 is so we can take advantage of the window of opportunity to utilize these specialized orthodontic appliances,” says Dr. Claudia Bachmann.

The reason for specialized orthodontics at this age is because the sutures of their facial bone structure have not fused yet and will respond to pressure or force of appliances.

The following appliances are used to manipulate the position and shape of facial structures such as the jaw that are sometimes responsible for malocclusions.

Palatal expanders are placed in the roof of the mouth and allow us to widen the upper dental arch. The appliance is widened gradually each day with the use of a supplied key to create room for crowded teeth or to correct a crossbite -when teeth overlap negatively front to back or side to side. When left untreated, crossbites and crowded teeth can lead to structural asymmetry by encouraging irregular jaw growth.

The Herbst appliance is used to improve or correct overbites, buck teeth and an underdeveloped chin.

Once the jaw’s position has been corrected, or widened to create room for crowded teeth, Braces or Invisalign treatment can be used to align the teeth to create a stunning smile.

Although appliances such as the Herbst and palatal expander aren’t nearly as effective for treating the same cases in adults, similar results can still be achieved. However, invasive methods such as surgery to widen or align the jaw may be required because their fused bones don’t respond to pressure like those of a growing child.

“This only stresses the importance of bringing your child in at the first sign of any oral issues or asymmetry of the face,” says Dr. Lutz.

Only a specialist orthodontist can advise if early treatment is best, or if you should wait until all the adult teeth are in, according to the New Zealand Association of Orthodontists.

“Many of the malocclusions adults suffer from that require surgery to fix could have been addressed with a noninvasive option if only they had seen a specialist or kids orthodontist at a young age,” says Dr. Claudia.

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