As parents ourselves, we know it can be difficult to tell which small imperfections in your child’s toothy smile are endearing and which stem from a serious jaw misalignment that might be causing discomfort or self-consciousness for your child. Recognizing and treating their child’s orthodontic issues is a common point of concern for parents, who often bring their children to Bennett Orthodontics in hopes of diagnosing and treating jaw pain. Jaw pain is fairly common in both children and adults, but it’s most often related to a misaligned bite in younger children. The good news is, the expert team here at Bennett Orthodontics can identify and treat your child’s jaw pain, leaving them with an aligned bite and healthy smile! Keep reading to learn more.
How does a misaligned bite cause jaw pain?
Every time your child eats, speaks, and even yawns, they use their extremely strong jaw muscles. In fact, chewing can generate up to several hundred pounds of force per square inch! If a child has a misalignment, those powerful jaw muscles won’t be able to bite down evenly, which can create an imbalance or place significant, uneven pressure on certain teeth.
In an attempt to correct for this, the jaw muscles will often overcompensate. Over time, this can create an imbalance, or malocclusion, which will in turn lead to stiffness, soreness, and pain in the child’s jaw. Severe jaw pain can not only make eating uncomfortable, but it can also interfere with your child’s speech, breathing, and sleeping. The joint where the upper and lower jaw meets is complex, so improper functioning can lead to chronic pain in some children, even when their jaw is still or relaxed.
How do jaws get misaligned, and how can they be realigned?
There are several reasons that your child could develop a malocclusion. Bad bites or crooked teeth are often the result of genetics, but they can also result from:
- jaw injuries
- extended thumb sucking or pacifier use
- prolonged use of a bottle
- tongue thrusting
- mouths that are too small for their teeth
- upper jaw and lower jaws that are different sizes
- the early loss of baby teeth
While you may not always be able to prevent a misaligned bite, there are steps you can take to correct it! Because every child’s smile is unique, there is no one-size-fits-all treatment plan. When you schedule an evaluation for your child with our Mobile office, Dr. Todd Bennett will perform an oral examination and assess your child’s teeth and jaw.
If treatment is required, he’ll create a customized treatment plan based on your child’s specific needs. This may include the use of one or more orthodontic appliances, something we’ll discuss with you in detail during their visit. Some of the most common treatment options include the following.
Braces tend to be the simplest and most common way to correct malocclusions. If your child gets braces, brackets will be gently affixed to their teeth and connected with a flexible wire. The wire is regularly tightened throughout the treatment process, slowly moving the teeth and jaw into more optimal positions. We may also use elastic bands to apply pressure that will achieve better alignment. Once treatment is complete, we’ll provide the patient with a retainer that will help keep their new smile in place.
Upper jaw expander
Upper jaw expanders are an orthodontic appliance we can use to correct an underbite. The wire-frame device fits across the upper palate, and a special key is used to widen the expander a very small amount each night. Over time, this will widen the upper jaw and bring the bite into alignment.
In rare instances, jaw surgery may be required to correct a misaligned bite, although this is typically reserved for patients who are struggling to perform everyday functions like eating, sleeping, and speaking. Thankfully, we can usually correct alignment issues in children before they get serious enough to need surgery.
What are the benefits of correcting a misaligned bite?
Correcting a misaligned bite can relieve jaw pain, but there are other benefits to consider as well! Your child’s teeth will be easier to clean, which reduces the risk of developing tooth decay and cavities. They’ll be less likely to chip their teeth or lose them prematurely, and they’ll be able to speak with more clarity.
Appropriate treatment will help increase your child’s self-confidence and give them a smile they’ll be proud to share with everyone around them!
Give your child a lifetime of smiles with Bennett Orthodontics
Correcting your child’s misaligned bite is an important investment, and one they will reap the rewards of for years to come. With a variety of effective and affordable treatment options available, it’s never been easier to get your child’s smile off to a great start!
Our goal here at Bennett Orthodontics is to improve your child’s oral health, align their bite, and enhance their self-confidence. To learn more about correcting misalignments and achieving a healthier smile for your child, get in touch today to schedule a FREE consultation with our Mobile office.