The short answer? It depends.
The question is deceptive however because it oversimplifies a more complex situation. Braces are just part of a complete orthodontic treatment plan among many different options. When orthodontists design treatment plans to move your teeth, they can change your jaw positioning, which will, in turn, enhance your face shape & profile.
It’s important to note that the braces themselves do not affect your jaw, but some orthodontic treatments do. Below, we’ll discuss different ways braces and other orthodontic treatment plans can affect the jaw.
Braces: Fixing Bad Bites
Braces have been used to correct bite problems and improve tooth alignment well before orthodontics was an established medical field. Today, braces are still used to treat everything from mild crowding to severe overbites and everything in between. From a treatment standpoint, braces remain a popular choice among orthodontists because they are:
- Effective at treating both simple and complicated alignment issues.
- Versatile enough to correct a wide range of problems, including overbites, underbites, crossbites, and other issues.
In orthodontics, the clinical term for a”bad bite” is a malocclusion.” Malocclusions have diverse appearances and can affect smiles in different ways. An ideal occlusion—a perfectly aligned bite—looks like this:
Because common malocclusions sometimes affect the jaw’s appearance and functionality, many patients come to Beverly Hills Orthodontics (BHO) with questions about how braces might affect their jaws. During consultations, we are frequently asked:
- Do braces change your jaw?
- How often is jaw realignment necessary?
- Will I need jaw surgery to fix my bite problems?
If you’ve been asking yourself the same kinds of questions, you’ve come to the right place!
Do Braces Change Your Jaw? Not Necessarily
Just because braces can affect your jaw, that doesn’t mean they will. As we give you a more detailed explanation, it’s important to make a distinction between two closely connected—but separate—pieces of the larger picture:
- The instruments = Braces themselves (i.e., tooth-bonded brackets and wires)
- The plan = Orthodontic treatments that require braces, in addition to other appliances and modalities.
Brackets and wires alone will not move your jaws; instead, they are tools used to realign your teeth. At the beginning of braces treatment, an orthodontist bonds metal or ceramic brackets to your teeth. Then, they connect them in a line by threading an archwire through every bracket.
By tightening the archwire every 4-6 weeks, orthodontists can gradually move teeth into better positions. After a year or two of regular adjustments, your treatment will end with a perfectly aligned set of teeth.
If you struggle with simple dental crowding or spacing issues, brackets and wires alone can eliminate the problem to give you a flawless smile. However, if your upper and lower jaws do not fit together properly, your orthodontist will take additional steps to fix the problem.
Orthodontic treatment plans are the map that leads to your ultimate destination (straight teeth + aligned jaw). Most vehicles are useless, if you don’t know where you’re going or have a map to follow.
When you put the right tools in the hands of experts who can design personalized treatment plans, a perfect smile is only a matter of time.
Orthodontic Measures to Improve Jaw Alignment and Appearance
While brackets and wires alone are not enough to realign the jaw, braces might be included in treatment plans that do improve jaw alignment and appearance. Generally speaking, jaw realignment techniques are most commonly used to treat three malocclusions:
Overbites occur when the upper teeth extend far beyond the lower teeth. They frequently lead to oral health problems, acute tooth sensitivity, and chronic jaw pain.
Underbites have the opposite effect, with the lower teeth extending further than the upper teeth, leading to a “chin forward” appearance. This can create potential issues with eating, chewing, and even breathing.
With a crossbite, some of the upper teeth are inside of the lower teeth when biting down—to the point that teeth do not bite into each other. Depending on which issues and the severity you’re dealing with, an orthodontist can eliminate your malocclusion in a number of ways.
For example, the team here at Beverly Hills Orthodontics often corrects mild overbites and underbites with a combination of braces and elastic rubber bands. The goal is to move the jaws so the upper teeth can close comfortably on top of the lower teeth.
Looping rubber bands around the brackets allows orthodontists to gradually shift jaws into the ideal position. To achieve this, patients must wear rubber bands at all times, with exceptions only for eating or performing your oral care routine.
Elastics treatment is great for mild malocclusions, but there are many instances when other methods offer a better path of treatment. If you have a more complicated malocclusion or feel that a different care method will better suit your lifestyle, we may suggest:
- Orthodontic headgear. This is a powerful appliance that rests partly outside the mouth. Headgear not only corrects severe overbites, but it also gives patients a strong, well-defined jawline upon completing treatment.
- A palatal expander (right). This appliance is used to correct crossbites by widening the upper or lower jaw. Primarily used to correct children’s bites, palatal expanders create the mouth space required for the upper and lower jaws to bite together properly.
- Orthognathic surgery. The clinical term for jaw surgery, various orthognathic approaches can correct overbite, underbite, crossbite, and other malocclusions that are too severe for other appliances to fix.
BHO’s Custom Approach
At BHO, we use these methods among many others to create holistic treatment plans that meet the unique needs of each patient. During our consultations, we discuss all your available options and work together to form a care plan that will:
- Eliminate your malocclusion and provide you with several related health benefits
- Fit comfortably into your schedule and lifestyle
- Meet all of your aesthetic goals (e.g., stronger jawline, different chin/throat length, etc.)
If you’re ready to learn what your care plan could look like, contact one of our offices today to schedule an appointment with an expert orthodontic care strategist.
Interested in Orthodontic Treatment? Schedule an Appointment at Beverly Hills Orthodontics Today
Orthodontic cases are diverse. Although some issues can be corrected with straightforward plans like braces and Invisalign, others require additional measures to fix alignment and/or jaw problems. At Beverly Hills Orthodontics, we correct all alignment problems quickly and effectively using the BHO method—our “special sauce.”
The BHO method focuses on crafting patient-specific treatment plans to treat alignment problems more efficiently than other orthodontic offices. Created and practiced by Ivy-League graduate Dr. Monica Madan, the accuracy of the BHO method leads to rapid, more effective results, and it also uses methods that complement each patient’s needs and lifestyle preferences.
Whether your malocclusion requires slight jaw correction or a complete reconstruction, Dr. Madan and the BHO team can design a treatment plan that works with your schedule. Call one of our offices in Beverly Hills/Century City, Toluca Lake/Studio City, Alhambra, or Downtown LA, to get started today.