Identifying And Correcting Your Child’s Misaligned Jaw

Have you noticed your child rubbing at their jaw or picking at their food lately? If your child has been showing some signs of jaw pain lately, you may be wondering what’s going on. While this is a common complaint in both children and adults, it’s never easy to see your child hurting! There are several possible reasons for jaw pain, it’s often related to a misaligned bite when it happens to kids. The technical term for this kind of misalignment is malocclusion, and the good news is, it can be corrected! We’re here to tell you everything you need to know about identifying and correcting your child’s misaligned jaw!

Here at Nirenblatt Orthodontics, many of the children we see are dealing with a misaligned bite that’s causing them jaw pain. When you schedule a complimentary consultation for your child, Dr. Nirenblatt will perform an oral examination to assess their bite and dental development. He’ll be able to identify and treat your child’s jaw pain, leaving them with a beautifully aligned smile! To learn more about this process, keep reading below.

How can a misaligned bite cause jaw pain?

Every time we eat, we use our jaws. You may not realize it, but these are extremely strong muscles—believe it or not, chewing can generate up to several hundred pounds of force per square inch! If your child has a misalignment present, those powerful jaw muscles won’t be able to bite down evenly. This can create an imbalance or place pressure on certain teeth. 

To try and correct this, the jaw muscles will often overcompensate, which can lead to soreness and discomfort over time. Jaw pain can also have a knock-on effect sometimes. Besides making it difficult to eat, it can also interfere with the child’s speech, breathing, and sleeping. And because the joint where the upper and lower jaw meets is complex, improper functioning in this area can lead to chronic pain in some children, even when the jaw is at rest. 

Identifying And Correcting Your Child's Misaligned Jaw

What are the possible causes of a misaligned bite? How can it be treated?

There are many possible reasons that your child may develop a malocclusion. The most common cause of a bad bite or crooked teeth is genetics, but they can also occur if your child has: 

  • a mouth that’s too small for their teeth
  • upper jaw and lower jaws that are different sizes
  • experienced the early loss of baby teeth
  • had jaw injuries
  • tongue thrusting

A misaligned bite can also be a result of extended thumb-sucking and the prolonged use of a pacifier or bottle. While you may not always be able to prevent a misaligned bite, there are still steps you can take to correct it! 

Every child’s smile is as unique as they are, so there is no one-size-fits-all treatment plan. When you schedule an evaluation for your child with Dr. Nirenblatt, he’ll assess their teeth and jaw. 

If treatment is required, we’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

Braces tend to be the most common way to correct a malocclusion. Our practice offers a range of braces, including metal braces, clear braces, and clear aligners.

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. 

Clear aligners work similarly, but use a simple series of removable trays to move the teeth and jaw instead of brackets and wires. Dr. Nirenblatt has been using aligners since 1999, treating hundreds of patients in that time. He’s actually been published on the subject! Unlike some orthodontists, he’s able to use Invisalign to successfully treat severe cases as well as those that are more mild or moderate. 

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.  

Jaw surgery

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. Fortunately, we’re usually able to correct alignment issues in children before they get serious enough to need surgery. 

What are the benefits of correcting a misaligned bite?

Besides relieving jaw pain, correcting a misaligned bite comes with other benefits as well. You’ll find that your child’s teeth will be easier to clean, reducing the risk of them developing tooth decay and cavities. They’ll be less likely to chip their teeth or lose them prematurely, and will often speak with more clarity, too. Providing your child with the appropriate treatment will also increase their self-confidence and give them a happier, healthier smile!

Identifying And Correcting Your Child's Misaligned Jaw

Keep your child smiling with help from Nirenblatt Orthodontics

Aligning your child’s smile is an important investment, and one they’ll reap the rewards of for many 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 the best start possible!  

Here at Nirenblatt Orthodontics, we’re committed to improving your child’s oral health, correcting any misalignments, and enhancing their self-confidence. Our treatment options can do all three! To learn more about relieving jaw pain and achieving a healthier smile for your child, get in touch today to schedule a FREE consultation with our North Charleston, Summerville, or West Ashley office!