Orthodontic treatment for “buck teeth” is as important for a child’s health as it is for cosmetic reasons.
It can be particularly beneficial for young children between ages 6 and 10 to receive early treatment for this condition, because children in this age group who have severely protruding teeth are much more likely to suffer dental trauma, including broken, chipped or knocked out teeth.
A study published in the American Journal of Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopedics last year found that approximately one in three children who were treated for severely protruding teeth were less likely to experience dental trauma, according to the American Association of Orthodontists.
Protruding teeth can do more than leave children susceptible to injury; they also can cause uneven tooth wear. When the lower lip rests behind the upper front teeth because the protrusion is so extreme, the lower lip can push the teeth even farther out.
The benefit of early treatment is one reason why it’s important to have your child evaluated by an orthodontist at age 7. This is a good time to assess the teeth and the bite because there is a mixture of baby and adult teeth at this age.
Genetics, crowding, or poor oral habits such as thumb-sucking and extended pacifier use can cause teeth to protrude. Having your child assessed by an orthodontist can identify the cause of the protrusion and provide an opportunity to address the root cause.
If harmful oral habits are the cause of the protrusion, early treatment—also called Phase I treatment—can help break those habits. For example, a child who has been unsuccessful in breaking his thumb-sucking habit may benefit from an appliance placed in the roof of the mouth, which eliminates the pleasant feeling of thumb-sucking.
Phase I treatment also can include braces or other orthodontic appliances designed to promote or inhibit jaw growth as necessary, or to create more space for erupting teeth. In severe conditions, orthognathic surgery may be required.
A lot of parents hear the recommendation of orthodontic evaluation by age 7 and express concern that this is too young for treatment. It is important to put Phase I treatment into perspective: In most cases, no treatment is recommended at this age. In fact , only 10 percent of the patients we see at this age require treatment.
When no treatment is recommended, we place your child in our monitoring program and schedule follow-up appointments once or twice annually so we can continue to observe the bite and the manner in which the adult teeth erupt. When the time is right, we will recommend a treatment plan if necessary.
In those few cases where Phase I treatment is encouraged, protruding teeth is among the top reasons. About 15 percent of children between ages 12 and 15 have protruding teeth, according to the study. That makes it one of the most common problems treated by orthodontists.
Correcting the problem is a necessity because a child with protruding teeth doesn’t have appropriate lip coverage to cushion the teeth if he is hit in the mouth while playing sports, or falls and hits his face on a piece of playground equipment. If a child damages or loses a permanent front tooth, that is a problem that will have to be addressed periodically for the rest of his life.
Phase I treatment is highly beneficial in preventing the need for more extensive and invasive treatment later in life. It is designed to address the immediate protrusion problem. Many children will need a second phase of treatment after most or all of their permanent teeth have erupted. This is necessary to align the teeth properly and ensure they are in their optimal positions.
Protruding teeth isn’t the only type if malocclusion that benefits from interceptive treatment. Underbite, correction of harmful oral habits, and space maintenance or creation for erupting teeth are other occasions when interceptive treatment may be recommended.
Addressing these sorts of conditions early has the following benefits:
• Improved prognosis regarding how the permanent teeth develop and erupt.
• Habits that have the potential to cause developmental problems are eliminated.
• Bite problems that can lead to other oral problems such as open bite, cross bite, deep bite and underbite are addressed.
• We can guide a child’s jaw growth to provide more room for teeth that haven’t yet erupted.
• Improved facial appearance.
• Creation of a more pleasing and functional relationship between the teeth, lips and face.
• Alleviation and possible prevention of the need to perform more invasive dental correction in the future.
• Increased self-confidence and self-esteem.
Correcting Buck Teeth in Adults
We’ve talked a great deal about early treatment and its benefits for children, but adults who have this same problem need not feel as though their chance at a beautiful smile has passed them by. It is true that many orthodontic problems are best corrected in growing children, but it is never too late to achieve improvements. If you are an adult who has buck teeth, you will be happy to know that there are solutions available to you.
You need to have a thorough evaluation to determine the best treatment path. Based on your unique situation, we may recommend one of the following treatment options:
• Invisalign- This aesthetic treatment uses a series of clear, removable plastic aligners. Cases of mild tooth protrusion can be corrected using this system. Adults like Invisalign treatment because the aligners are virtually unnoticeable when worn, and they can be removed for speaking engagements, photos and other special occasions.
• Braces- Moderate to severe protrusion may require the use of bands, arch wires and brackets to apply the forces necessary to achieve the desired tooth movement. Protruding teeth can be brought into proper position over time using this method.
• Tooth extraction- Protruding teeth are crowded teeth. Sometimes the most effective, aesthetic solution for adults is to extract some teeth to create more space, because jaw growth is complete. Then, I can close the space to reduce the protrusion.
• Surgery- Severe cases of tooth protrusion in adults may require orthognathic surgery when the root cause is skeletal in nature. The surgery may need to be followed up with orthodontic treatment.
Please call Orthodontics Only today if you or your child would like to be evaluated. We love the role we play in protecting your teeth from harm and improving self-esteem, one smile at a time.