Recognizing and Treating Your Child’s Misaligned Jaw

Did you know that the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that every child should see an orthodontist around age 7? This is because most children around that age will have enough dental “landmarks” in place that their teeth, jaw, and bite can be assessed by a trained orthodontist to ensure everything is developing normally. Though Dr. Stephanie Rhoads customizes every treatment plan to meet the specific needs of the child that she is treating, there are several common conditions she’ll be looking for during your child’s initial evaluation. Let’s take an in-depth look at some of the most common issues we see in young children with a misaligned jaw, and how recognizing and treating them can help your child’s smile feel better and look better, too! 

Crowded teeth

Healthy teeth and gums are obviously essential to your child’s oral health, but crowded teeth can make it difficult for your child to brush and floss effectively. This can put them at a greater risk of tooth decay and cavities, which only leads to more problems down the line. 

If your child has crowded teeth, orthodontic treatment can move them into more optimal positions over time to give them an evenly spaced smile that’s easier to clean! Treatment can also lessen general facial tension and relieve chewing or speech difficulties. 

Gapped teeth

Gaps between teeth are very common, and can develop for a variety of reasons: genetics, thumb or finger sucking, extended bottle or pacifier use, and even gum disease. 

If your child has a bit too much space between their teeth, our team will be able to identify the root cause and create a personalized treatment plan to close any gaps and improve the overall appearance of your child’s smile. 

Missing teeth

Sometimes, gaps between teeth can develop because of congenitally missing teeth that simply never grew in. In other cases, these gaps may be created when permanent teeth are lost due to injury or disease. 

If this is something your child has experienced, we can use braces to move existing teeth into their proper positions, then place bonded bridges where the missing teeth would have been. This approach allows us to create an evenly-spaced smile for your child that looks great and feels great, too!

Open bite

An open bite is where the upper and lower rows of the front teeth don’t touch or close properly when the mouth is closed. Many open bites come from extended thumb sucking in childhood, which can cause the teeth in the upper jaw to develop in a noticeably rounded formation. 

Whatever the cause, an open bite can generally be treated with a combination of braces and an orthodontic appliance known as a “crib.” This device prevents the tongue from putting pressure against the anterior teeth when swallowing, thus allowing their teeth to be adjusted while also training a better swallowing pattern. 

Once treatment is complete, your child will enjoy an aligned bite that allows them to comfortably close their mouth and enjoy all their favorite foods.

Recognizing and Treating Your Child's Misaligned Jaw

Deep overbite

When a child has a deep overbite, their lower teeth recede so far behind the upper teeth that they bite into the roof of the mouth. The upper front teeth also overlap the lower front teeth. Out of all the bite disorders, a deep overbite is the most detrimental to the teeth and health of the jaw joints, and may even impact their face shape and appearance. 

Treatment for a deep overbite may be achievable with orthodontics alone, or a combination of orthodontics and restorative dentistry, depending on the severity of the case. Correcting deep bite misalignments will not only improve the functionality of your child’s mouth but will also dramatically improve the appearance of their smile.


An underbite occurs when the bottom teeth protrude in front of the upper teeth. This type of bite misalignment can cause pain at the jaw joint, and the angled pressure it creates can wear teeth down over time. Luckily, children with underbites have quite a few treatment options available to them, including:

  • an upper jaw expander, which can be widened nightly until treatment is complete
  • a reverse-pull face mask, which wraps around the head and attaches to metal bands on the back upper teeth to pull the upper jaw forward
  • traditional braces to adjust the misaligned teeth

Orthodontic treatment like this will often relieve pain and discomfort associated with the underbite. It can also make smiling, eating, and even breathing easier for your child!


If a child has an overjet, their top front teeth protrude far beyond the bottom front teeth. This particular malocclusion is often referred to as “buck teeth” and is most effectively treated when diagnosed as early as possible. An early diagnosis gives us the chance to use your child’s growth to our advantage by working with their tooth eruption to create a more balanced mouth. The child’s age and specific needs will determine what treatment approach we take, but their options generally include:

  • bite correction devices
  • traditional braces
  • removable orthodontic appliances
  • tooth removal
  • surgery

Once we’ve treated your child’s overjet, they’ll enjoy a beautifully balanced, functional smile. 

Recognizing and Treating Your Child's Misaligned Jaw

Help your child find their best smile at Rhoads Orthodontics

Though an initial consultation is only the first step in recognizing and treating your child’s misaligned jaw, it is also the most important one, because catching problems early allows the Rhoads Orthodontics team to preemptively address orthodontic issues before they become issues.

Dr. Rhoads is proud to provide customized care in a friendly, welcoming atmosphere to every child we treat. If you’ve been wondering if your child would benefit from orthodontic care, we’d love to meet you both and take a look at how your child’s smile is developing! Our team has years of experience recognizing and treating all kinds of orthodontic issues related to a misaligned jaw, and can help your child’s smile be straighter, healthier, and more comfortable.

If you’re in Cranberry Township or the surrounding area and would like to know more about the benefits of orthodontics, get in touch today to schedule a FREE consultation. Whatever your child needs, we’ll provide them with the best orthodontic experience possible!