Patients typically identify elements of their smile that they dislike when they come to us for orthodontic treatment, but they seldom consider how treatment can improve the entire face.

The truth is that a good orthodontist approaches treatment recommendations with the whole face in mind, and not just the teeth.

That’s why in addition to taking impressions of the teeth when evaluating patients, we also take front-facing and profile photographs. The shape of a patient’s face is a factor in treatment recommendations. Sometimes a patient may have aligned teeth, but orthodontic treatment is recommended to address facial featu
res that can leave you feeling self-conscious. Some examples include:

  • The face appears long, concave or flat
  • Lip incompetence- the lips fail to rest together comfortably when the mouth is closed
  • Upper or lower lips protrude
  • Protruding or receding chin
  • Too much gum tissue shows when smiling
  • Facial asymmetry

But let’s face it: Very few patients are born with perfectly aligned teeth, and treatment for crowding, spacing and alignment issues typically improves a patient’s facial shape. The appearance of the facial profile once treatment is complete is important.

We look at three key areas of the profile while mapping an orthodontic treatment plan: the area between the eyebrows, the area where the nasal septum joins the upper lip, and the portion of the chin that protrudes the most. If you were to draw a line that connects these three points, the normal angle formed is 165 degrees to 175 degrees.

An angle of less than 165 degrees typically indicates a recessed lower jaw. Treatment that promotes lower jaw growth creates a more aesthetically pleasing profile.

An angle greater than 175 degrees can indicate an underbite. A person who has an underbite may have a concave facial appearance. Bringing the lower jaw into proper position helps support the cheeks differently and gives them more prominence.

Many of the examples of unfavorable facial appearances given above can be caused by the one condition that often doesn’t seem like a big deal: lip incompetence. It can lead to changes in facial development, such as creating an elongated face. It also can alter tooth eruption and alignment, breathing, swallowing and jaw joint function.

Lip incompetence – and its associated problems – may be corrected through treatment that addresses lower jaw growth. In some cases, we may recommend having some permanent teeth extracted.

Regardless of your chief complaint, we look at the big picture when treating patients. A beautiful smile involves more than the teeth; it involves your entire face. We provide treatment that takes that into consideration.

Call our office today to schedule a consultation to learn more.