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Why Proper Jaw Spacing Is So Important

The benefits of a beautiful, evenly aligned smile are easy to see. But did you know that when it comes to a perfect smile, there’s more than meets the eye? It’s true! A beautiful smile goes far beyond just looks - having a beautifully aligned smile has health benefits, too. It can help eliminate the pain associated with crowding, bruxism (also known as tooth grinding) and even temporomandibular joint disorders (aka TMJ disorders, or simply TMD). That’s one of the main reasons that, when it comes to aligning your bite, early intervention is best.

 

When should my child be evaluated for braces?

You may already know that your child will need braces based on the current alignment of his or her teeth, but in many cases you may not realize there’s a problem. This is because a child’s baby teeth can often be perfectly aligned, but trouble in the form of crowding or crooked teeth could be imminent when their adult teeth come in. Unless you have X-ray vision, it’s often impossible to spot these problems in advance. The good news is we do have X-ray vision - or at least an X-ray machine - that can take photos of your child’s adult teeth underneath the gums and determine if those teeth will require alignment once they’ve erupted.

In some cases, we may even begin to use orthotics to align the baby teeth prior to the adult teeth erupting. This can help create space for the adult teeth when they emerge, and can lessen or maybe even eliminate the need for braces or orthotics on the adult teeth. For this reason, we recommend getting your child an orthodontic evaluation as early as possible, even if you aren’t quite sure he or she needs one.

Why is jaw spacing so important?

You may look at your child’s jaw and see nothing wrong with it and wonder why Dr. Simpson is recommending a jaw-alignment orthotic. In fact, some parents are shocked to realize that after their child has already completed their orthodontic treatment, they are now being told their child needs a spacing orthotic. This is because even though an orthodontic treatment is successful, it may not fix all the problems in the mouth - in fact, it can even create new problems.

You see, whenever you change the alignment of the teeth, you change the bite, too. Sometimes, this is done correctly and there are no problems, but sometimes when you adjust the bite, the jaw is forced into an uncomfortable position, or the lower jaw is forced to align differently than it's used to, causing pain, TMJ disorders or tooth grinding.

Another issue that is becoming more common in some former orthodontic patients is sleep apnea. This is because in recent years, many orthodontists have opted to remove healthy teeth from the jaw rather than use orthotics to create more space. While this seemed to correct the problem at the time, as these patients have gotten older, this lack of teeth has created a new problem: sleep apnea. This happens because when you remove teeth, the arch shape of the mouth changes, making the tongue fall backward during sleep and block the airway, causing apnea.

What should I do if my jaw is experiencing pain following orthodontic treatment?

Whether you just got your braces off or you had them off 30 years ago, if you are experiencing jaw soreness, sleep apnea, TMJ disorder or tooth grinding, come see Dr. Simpson for an orthodontic evaluation. Don’t let the fear of wearing braces as an adult prevent you from stopping the pain and discomfort associated with a misaligned bite. Often there are many discreet options that can deliver the results you need without anyone realizing you are undergoing orthodontic treatment.

If you’d like to schedule an orthodontic consultation for yourself or someone you love, please give Dr. Simpson’s office a call at 910-550-3959.

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Michele Simpson DDS

Wilmington Dental Office

3317 Masonboro Loop Rd • Suite 140 • Wilmington, NC 28409

(910) 550-3959

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3317 Masonboro Loop Rd
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Wilmington, NC 28409