Jaw development is a difficult subject to cover in one article. This is a complex phenomenon that occurs over several years until the end of adolescence and happens in three dimensions. Nevertheless, abnormal jaw development can occur in certain children and lead to complications.
Fortunately, there are solutions to these types of abnormalities. In fact, the earlier the jaw growth problem is identified, the more effective the treatments will be. This is why it is important to recognize specific signs of abnormal jaw development.
Abnormal jaw development can cause chewing difficulties
In some pediatric cases, the upper jaw may be too narrow when compared to the lower jaw.
This can cause the mandible to deviate from its normal trajectory when chewing food.
This chewing difficulty can also result from an unbalanced relationship between the upper and lower teeth when the upper jaw is too narrow. The upper teeth can tilt inwards compared to the lower teeth and lose their effectiveness.
Since the width of the jaw is the first of three dimensions to complete its growth (the other dimensions being length and height), this type of condition is very rarely resolved during growth. Therefore, it is necessary to take measures to widen the upper jaw. This can be done, for example, by palatal expansion.
During childhood, this procedure only very rarely requires surgery and can be performed by an orthodontist. However, in adulthood, because the growth centre is inactive and has calcified, only maxillofacial surgery can widen the patient’s palate.
Abnormal jaw development can restrict respiratory passage
When a child’s upper jaw does not grow wide enough, he or she may also have difficulty breathing through the nose. Since the nasal cavity is located above the palate, the respiratory passage may be too narrow for the child to breathe easily.
Widening the palate facilitates the passage of air and makes it easier for the child to breathe through the nose. This treatment can even reduce the risk that the young patient will suffer from sleep apnea in adulthood.
Premature tooth wear can be a sign of abnormal jaw development
When the jaw grows abnormally, the teeth may no longer be properly aligned. The term malocclusion is frequently used to describe this problem.
Crooked or overlapping teeth can create friction, causing the teeth to wear out much faster than they should.
Abnormal jaw growth can lead to pronunciation problems
When a child is unable to close their jaw completely due to an imbalance or severe malocclusion, they may experience phonetic difficulties.
Incorrect alignment of teeth and jaws can make it difficult, if not impossible, to produce certain sounds. Restoring optimal jaw alignment can be done with orthognathic surgery.
An asymmetrical-looking face may be the result of a lower jaw defect
The lower jaw can also grow abnormally. Some lower jaw growth anomalies can be treated with surgery even in childhood, in order to reduce the impact during growth and therefore limit the patient’s facial asymmetries in adulthood.
Quickly detect jaw deformities to better treat them
Since physical development is extremely rapid in young people, it is crucial that if you notice any of the above-mentioned signs in your child, you do not take any chances and report them to a professional such as your dentist.
Although some of the problems mentioned above can be solved with orthodontic treatment, some malformations or abnormalities may require surgical intervention or follow-up with a maxillofacial surgeon. This is why orthodontists and maxillofacial surgeons often work together and jointly develop strategies to improve young patients’ quality of life.
At Clinique MFML, we will work with your dentist and orthodontist to develop and plan the procedures required for your child. Make an appointment with us if you suspect a maxillofacial problem.