Do your two front teeth stick out of your mouth? When the upper teeth noticeably protrude out over the lower teeth to the point where they appear to be sticking out of the mouth, this is known as buck teeth. Although some cases of buck teeth simply affect the appearance of one’s smile, other cases can impede normal functioning. For this reason, orthodontists often try to educate patients on how to decrease the risk of buck teeth, as well as recommend treatment to correct established cases.
How do protruding teeth form?
Protruding teeth are generally seen when the jaw itself is misaligned. In fact this misalignment is known as malocclusion. While there are different types of malocclusion, protruding teeth are most commonly seen in coordination with an overbite where the upper jaw protrudes abnormally far over the lower jaw.
In some cases, both the overbite and the protruding teeth are the result of genetics. Protruding teeth can also occur when the upper jaw is too small for the number of teeth, which ultimately leads to overcrowding and pushes some of the teeth forward. In some cases, protruding teeth can even occur when there are prematurely lost teeth that leave spaces for the remaining teeth to move around.
Additionally, certain childhood habits can contribute to both protruding teeth and overbites. Tongue thrusting, as well as finger or pacifier sucking are the main habits that have been associated with contributing to both overbites and protruding teeth. Tongue thrust is a condition caused by tongue tie, poor swallowing, swollen tonsils or adenoids, or allergies, where the tongue sits too far forward in the mouth. This places constant pressure on the back of the top front teeth.
Constantly sucking on one’s fingers or on a pacifier is another habit that can put pressure on the teeth and jaw, causing them to flare outward. Although both can be detrimental to the growth and development of the teeth and jaw, the American Dental Association notes that sucking on a pacifier causes more harm than finger sucking.
How are protruding teeth treated?
In cases where protruding teeth only affect the aesthetics of one’s smile, orthodontic treatment may not be necessary unless desired. However, cases that are more severe have the potential to affect the function of the teeth and jaw, and should be treated by an orthodontist. Not only are protruding teeth more likely to undergo dental trauma, but an overbite can also cause problems with chewing, breathing, speaking, and can eventually lead to pain or damage to the teeth and jaw.
In order to determine the best treatment for protruding teeth, your orthodontist will need to evaluate your teeth and bite. There are different treatment options available, however some may work better for certain cases than others. For example, although Invisalign can correct overbites, a more severe overbite may need to be treated with traditional metal braces. Another example would be to use a palate expander to widen the upper jaw in order to alleviate overcrowded teeth. Simply stated, the exact treatment plan will be partially dependent on the severity and cause of the problem.
Dr. Williams is up to date with all of the latest techniques and theories in the practice of orthodontics and is an active member of the American Association of Orthodontists. He is dedicated to providing the highest quality of orthodontic care to every patient.