Image credit: American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons

Image credit: American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons

Imagine a bright, athletic, handsome, and funny kid who lacks self-confidence and feels awkward in social settings. What could be the cause of this lack of confidence? Believe or not, it could be something as simple as overjet.

April is a great time to talk about this type of malocclusion because it is National Facial Protection Month. Self-confidence aside, uncorrected overjet could cause your child to be at risk for serious dental trauma.

First, a primer on overjet. Simply put, it’s a term to describe “protrusion” of the teeth. You can tell when a person has an overjet by the way their top teeth are too far in front of their bottom teeth.

Overjet can be caused by thumb sucking, extended pacifier use, or even from natural causes, such as overcrowded teeth in the upper jaw pushing the teeth forward due to lack of space.

Children with overjet suffer oral injuries more often than children without this type of malocclusion. A study published in the European Journal of Orthodontics that assessed the relationship between overjet size and traumatic dental injuries found children with an overjet larger than 3 mm are approximately twice as likely to sustain a traumatic dental injury to front teeth than those with an overjet less than 3 mm.

Overjet is yet another reason why we recommend scheduling an orthodontic evaluation with us by age 7. At this age, your child’s bite is established and we can determine if overjet is present. There may be treatments we can recommend to correct the issue early and prevent injury later. Identifying the issue early enough often means more invasive dental procedures can be avoided. Appliances such as braces, headgear and elastics often can correct overjet without any surgery procedures.

Orthodontic care to correct overjet can help prevent:

  • Improper operation of front teeth
  • Early wear
  • Trauma
  • Speech impediment
  • Awkward appearance due to lips not fully closing

Now let’s get back to National Facial Protection Month. Envision your child participating in a contact sport such as soccer. One bad hit with a soccer ball, and his overjet could become more than a simple alignment problem. You could find yourself in need of an oral and maxillofacial surgeon to repair damaged teeth, lips and gums.

One goal of National Facial Protection Month is educating people on the importance of children (and adults, for that matter) wearing protective gear including mouth guards when participating in sports. You can learn more about this health observance and the professional organizations who have sponsored it here.

We offer custom-fitted mouth guards in our office, but there are some good over-the-counter options available, too. If your child already has a mouth guard, it’s important to have it checked by your dentist or orthodontist periodically to ensure it continues to fit properly and provide adequate protection.

As a member of American Association of Orthodontists, I encourage adults and children alike to take preventive measures to avoid injuries common among those who play contact sports and practice an active lifestyle.

Participate in National Facial Protection Month by taking safe strategies to prevent injuries to the face. Take care of your dental health by correcting overjet today.  Call our Miami orthodontics office: (305)-598-3384 for a consultation.