Has your child been complaining about pain when they eat or discomfort when they yawn? Maybe you’ve seen them rubbing their jaw lately like it’s bothering them? If so, these could signal a problem with the jaw that needs some professional attention. That’s where we come in! We’re here to help you in recognizing and treating your child’s misaligned jaw.
Jaw pain is fairly common in both children and adults, but in younger kids it’s often due to a misaligned bite. The technical term for this is malocclusion, and the good news is that it can be treated! The expert team here at Beim 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 we eat, speak, and even yawn, we use extremely powerful muscles to move our jaws and generate force. If a child has a misaligned jaw, those powerful muscles won’t be able to bite down with even force. This can create an imbalance or place significant pressure on certain teeth.
In an attempt to correct this, the jaw muscles will often overcompensate, worsening the problem and creating stiffness or soreness in your child’s jaw. Not only can this make eating uncomfortable, but it can also interfere with your child’s speech, breathing, and sleep. The joint where the upper and lower jaw meets is extremely complex, so improper movement, force, or function can lead to chronic, persistent pain.
What causes a misaligned bite? How can it be treated?
There are several reasons your child might develop a malocclusion. Bad bites or crooked teeth are often the result of genetics, but can also result from:
- mouths that are too small to fit their teeth
- differently-sized upper and lower jaws
- early loss of baby teeth
- jaw injuries
- extended thumb sucking or pacifier use
- prolonged use of a bottle
- tongue thrusting
No matter the cause of your child’s misaligned bite, there are steps you can take to correct it! However, 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 Lake Mary office, Dr. Michael Beim 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 most common way to correct a malocclusion, and are a remarkably comfortable, cost-effective, and efficient option. With braces treatment, brackets are affixed to the front or back of the 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.
Carriere motion appliance
The Carriere motion appliance is an orthodontic appliance used to help correct issues with your bite.The effect of a Carriere appliance is similar to that of traditional headgear (think Willy Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), but this appliance is much smaller and doesn’t require any bulky headgear. Dr. Beim will start by creating an anchor point to which your Carriere will be attached. An elastic band is attached to the upper teeth on either side of your mouth. This should be worn at all times unless you’re eating. Generally, the Carriere motion appliance is better-suited for minor jaw misalignments, or to reduce your time spent in braces.
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.
Most importantly, appropriate treatment will help your child feel more self-confident and give them a smile they’ll be proud to share with everyone around them!
Find your child’s best smile at Beim 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 at Beim Orthodontics is to better your child’s oral health, align their bite, and improve their self-confidence. Our treatment options and expert care can do all three! 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 Lake Mary office.