Millions of Americans suffer from some form of jaw dysfunction, misalignment, or malocclusion. At Foley and Le Oral and Maxillofacial surgeons, we understand the importance of correctly diagnosing misaligned teeth for optimal treatment.
We’ve put together this blog post outlining the four main types of jaw misalignment: Open bite (anterior and posterior), posterior crossbite, Class 2 malocclusion, and Class 3 malocclusion.
Read on to learn more about each type so you can get an idea of what treatment options might be best suited for your needs!
Overview of Jaw Misalignment & Common Symptoms
Jaw misalignment occurs when there is a discrepancy between the top and bottom jaws, either in terms of size or position. This can lead to various issues related to speech, chewing, and even facial structure.
Common symptoms of jaw misalignment include:
- Pain in the face and jaw joints (Temporomandibular joint problems)
- Headaches or soreness in the jaw area
- Difficulty with speaking, chewing, or yawning
- Discomfort while chewing food
- Unusual facial appearance
- Cheek and tongue biting
Let’s look at each of the four types of jaw misalignment.
Types of Jaw Misalignment
An open bite is a malocclusion (misaligned teeth) in which the teeth of one jaw do not make contact with those of the other. This can either occur with the front teeth (anterior open bite) or with the back teeth (posterior open bite). Such malocclusions may be skeletal, as when the jaws grow inappropriately. Diagnosis of the source of the growth problem will determine the site of surgery since either jaw or both jaws could be responsible. Correction of skeletal open bites can not be done with orthodontics alone and will require surgery.
Class 3 Malocclusion
A misalignment of the jaw that positions the upper teeth behind the lower teeth. This type of misalignment may require corrective jaw surgery. This is one of the most commonly performed upper jaw surgeries and is used to bring the middle of the face forward but sometimes requires surgery in both jaws.
Class 2 Malocclusion
Occurs when one jaw or both jaws grow inappropriately and cause an overbite (deep bite). Class 2 malocclusion is a very common condition and also frequently involves jaw surgery. The lower jaw is brought forward to position the lower teeth and chin in a more ideal position. However, sometimes surgery on both jaws is necessary.
Occurs when one jaw or both jaws grow inappropriately and causes the upper molars to be positioned inside of the lower molars (crossbite). When a posterior crossbite is caused by the positions of the jaw rather than the positions of the teeth, orthodontics alone cannot correct this problem. It is important for young patients to be evaluated by an orthodontist around the age of 7 or 8 years old as “growth modification” appliances can be used on young patients to help prevent jaw surgery. However, if this problem is not corrected during the growing years then jaw surgery is frequently necessary.
Treatment Options for Each Type of Jaw Misalignment
Open bite: The oral surgeon surgically separates the maxilla (upper jaw) from the skull, and moves it into the correct position where the upper teeth contact the lower teeth. The repositioned jaw is held in place with bone plates and screws until it heals, and the incision is closed using dissolving or removable sutures. Sometimes lower jaw surgery is also necessary.
Posterior crossbite: The oral surgeon surgically separates the maxilla (upper jaw) from the skull, surgically widens the jaw, and moves it into the correct position. The repositioned jaw is held in place with bone plates and screws until it heals, and the incision is closed using dissolving or removable sutures. Sometimes lower jaw surgery is also necessary. Surgery may be avoided with early orthodontic intervention and growth modification.
Class 2 malocclusion: The surgeon segments and repositions the lower jaw into the correct position and secures the segments in place with bone plates and screws. Sometimes upper jaw surgery is also necessary.
Class 3 malocclusion: The surgeon segments and repositions the lower jaw into the correct position and secures the segments in place with bone plates and screws. Sometimes upper jaw surgery is also necessary.
If you are scheduled to have jaw surgery, your surgeon will discuss the details of your specific procedure with you in detail. For more information about recovery after jaw surgery and the risks of jaw surgery, read Jaw Surgery (Orthognathic Surgery).
Why Treat Malocclusions?
Malocclusions can cause:
- Gum disease
- Tooth decay
- Speech difficulties
- Pain and headaches
- TMJ problems
- Inability to chew/eat food
- Facial deformations and asymmetry
It is important to treat malocclusions to improve oral health and reduce the risk of more serious dental complications.
How Is Jaw Surgery Performed?
Traditionally jaw surgery was planned on stone models made from the impressions of a patient’s teeth and the planned surgical movements were simulated by hand in a dental lab. From this “model surgery,” splints were made and worn by the patient to help position the jaws. This method was time-consuming and not always accurate.
Today, the surgery is planned digitally on the computer using a digital mode of the patient’s teeth as well as a CT scan of the patient’s skeleton. This has provided a more accurate surgical result for the patient. This process is called virtual surgical planning (VSP). From these planning sessions, custom bone plates, cutting guides, and occlusal splints are made to more accurately position the jaws during surgery.
Jaw and Oral Surgery in Boulder, CO
At Foley and Le Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, we specialize in performing corrective jaw surgery and other major oral surgery procedures. Our board-certified surgeons, Dr. Benjamin Foley, Dr. Thao Le, and Dr. Daniel Foley, have extensive training in orthognathic, dental implant placement, sleep apnea surgery, wisdom tooth removal, dental implant surgery, and more.
We understand the importance of providing our patients with the best care and most current techniques available today. We strive to provide our patients with an outstanding experience from start to finish, and our team of dedicated professionals is here to make sure that you get the results you’re looking for.If you are suffering from any type of jaw misalignment, please contact us today to schedule a consultation. If you are searching for an oral surgeon near me, trust the experts at Foley & Le. To book an appointment, call (303) 444-2255 or complete the online booking form. We look forward to helping you get the smile of your dreams.