Facial asymmetry is a natural feature of everyone’s looks. Nobody’s face is perfect! In fact, a recent experiment performed by artist Alex John Beck demonstrated how perfect facial symmetry (as induced by mirroring one plane of the face) leads to downright unsettling, uncanny-valley-esque faces.
Of course, everything in moderation! At Rhoads Orthodontics, we often hear the question, “can orthodontics fix facial asymmetry?”. And it’s a great question! As the following will demonstrate, facial asymmetry often has its roots in orthodontic issues. Treatment can not only very often clear up these issues but also can deal with potential complications that can arise from those issues left to their own devices, like TMJ. Read on to learn more!
Bite Problems Lead to Facial Asymmetry
When we talk about orthodontics and facial asymmetry, it often comes down to an underlying problem in the patient’s bite. Let’s take a look at a few of the different causes and their solutions:
In the case of an overbite, the upper front teeth overlap or cover part of the lower front teeth. This can lead to excessive wear and tear of the teeth, particularly the incisors (the two front teeth). Another concern with an overbite is the possibility of damage to the gum tissue leading to excessive gingival display (that’s a gummy smile to the rest of us).
Overbites can contribute to facial asymmetry by causing the cheeks to appear sunken and the jaw profile to be less distinct.
Traditional or clear braces or even aligners such as Invisalign can correct the issues leading to an overbite.
Also known as an anterior crossbite, this is where the lower jaw sits out in front of the upper jaw. With an underbite, the lower jaw may jut out asymmetrically. When uncorrected, underbites can lead to excessive stress and pressure on the joints of the jaw and face. That means tension headaches, tooth grinding, and temporomandibular disorders, or TMJ.
Underbites typically require more aggressive treatment than would be the case for the more common mild overbites. In more severe cases of underbite, Dr. Rhoads may refer you to an oral or maxillofacial surgeon with whom she’ll work closely to reshape the jaw to develop a proper bite.
Refers to a misalignment of either the teeth, jaws or both, in which upper teeth sit inside lower teeth. This often becomes worse over time and can lead to issues with adequately chewing food. The sooner this is detected, the better. That’s why we recommend that even if you don’t notice any visible malocclusion in your child’s teeth, you take them in to see an orthodontic specialist like Dr. Rhoads by the time they’re seven years old, according to the ADA.
A crossbite can result in facial asymmetry by leading to misalignment of the jawbones and uneven engagement of the facial and jaw muscles. Not only can this result in facial asymmetry, but it can lead to additional complications such as TMJ and tension headaches!
Crossbites are generally comfortably handled by various orthodontic treatments, including traditional metal or ceramic braces, Invisalign, or similar methods.
These come in two flavors: anterior and posterior.
With an anterior open bite, the upper and lower teeth never meet or overlap when the back teeth are together, causing a visible gap in the space, leading to the name. A posterior open bite is similar, but the front and side teeth will close properly, but a gap forms in the back teeth.
With a more severe incidence of open bite, as is the case with all of the above-described issues leading to facial asymmetry, Dr. Rhoads may want to refer you to a surgeon who specializes in what’s known as orthognathic surgery. This means that the surgeon has gone to great lengths to understand the relationship between the teeth, jaws, and facial structures.
Dr. Rhoads will work closely with the surgeon to develop a plan that leads to your best orthodontic outcomes. This includes correcting any incidence of severe facial asymmetry.
Take Charge of Your Face with Rhoads Orthodontics!
Here at Rhoads Orthodontics, we understand that facial asymmetry can be a cause for concern. Whether it’s self-esteem issues that come from wanting to look your best, or your concerns are more rooted in wanting to avoid or alleviate jaw pain stemming from asymmetry, we can help! Give us a call today for your free consultation!